Public Service Firm of New Mexico poured greater than $1 million into promoting from March by June to promote the general public on its proposed merger with Avangrid.
Included amongst 4 payments to PNM from the Albuquerque advertising and marketing agency 3 Promoting is one from early March for $864,290 for advert marketing campaign planning and manufacturing, plus broadcast, radio, digital and print adverts.
The expenditures — and in-person visits by PNM and Avangrid executives to key influencers — point out the businesses face not only a problem to achieve merger approval from the Public Regulation Fee. They’re additionally in search of wider public assist in a course of that might instantly go to the state Supreme Courtroom if the fee rejects the proposal.
The promoting retains coming.
“Effectively, there’s a number of it, that’s for certain. It’s fairly superb,” stated Jeff Albright, who represents Bernalillo County within the matter. “I feel it could be good in the event that they put that very same degree of effort into working with the events” affected by the proposal.
Connecticut-based Avangrid, which hopes to purchase PNM for $8.3 billion, has had a bumpy journey because the announcement of the deliberate merger late final yr. Avangrid has been accused, amongst different issues, of withholding data from the Public Regulation Fee about service issues involving its subsidiaries within the northeastern United States.
Avangrid on July 11 ran a full-page newspaper advert in The New Mexican, titled “An open letter to New Mexico from AVANGRID.” The letter, signed, “Humbly yours, Bob,” was from Bob Kump, president and deputy CEO of Avangrid.
He wrote Avangrid “by no means meant to depart the impression that we had been withholding data and if we created that impression, we apologize.”
PNM and Avangrid additionally ran a joint full-page advert that day in The New Mexican that asserted, “PNM is merging with AVANGRID.” However approval of the merger from the Public Regulation Fee seems to be lower than sure.
And the businesses aren’t simply promoting. PNM, Avangrid and Avangrid’s father or mother firm, Spain-based Iberdrola, have introduced out their bosses to speak to people who’ve enter into key organizations’ positions on the proposed merger.
Pedro Azagra Blázquez, who serves the twin position of Avangrid board member and Iberdrola’s company improvement director, got here to New Mexico on Monday to win assist for the proposal.
Amongst these he met with in Albuquerque had been representatives of Bernalillo County and the Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority, neither of which has signed on with the merger proposal.
“We’re nonetheless making an attempt to bridge the hole, and we’re making progress,” Albright stated, including there’s “nonetheless a protracted method to go.” Makes an attempt to schedule an interview with Blázquez by Avangrid and PNM public relations employees members had been unsuccessful.
Many organizations have given their blessing to the proposed merger. These embody the San Juan Residents Alliance, Diné Residents In opposition to Ruining Our Setting, Western Useful resource Advocates and the NAVA Training Mission.
And a few haven’t, together with the Sierra Membership and New Mexico Inexpensive Dependable Vitality Alliance.
A few of the excellent points embody the composition of the board that may oversee PNM, how a lot financial improvement assist can be given on to the state within the transaction, and an investigation in Spain of potential wrongdoing involving two Iberdrola executives and another corporations’ officers.
Avangrid stated the investigation is just a fact-finding mission, including there have been no fees and Iberdrola is cooperating with investigators.
The merger proposal has the assist of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Legal professional Common Hector Balderas.
Backers of the proposed merger say PNM and New Mexico lag in changing to more and more vital renewable power sources corresponding to photo voltaic and wind. They are saying New Mexico has an abundance of each and that Avangrid and Iberdrola, which have appreciable expertise in renewable power, may transfer the state into the brand new period.
Pat Vincent-Collawn, president and CEO of PNM Sources, was amongst Avangrid and PNM executives who met with representatives of The New Mexican’s editorial board in late Could.
At that assembly, Vincent-Collawn stated: “I’m certain you recognize we want you to look favorably on and in the end endorse the merger that we’re speaking about with the Avangrid household of corporations. … However we want at the moment to reply each one in every of your questions, regardless of how troublesome they’re.”
Vincent-Collawn and others on the assembly stated now could be the time to merge with consultants who can handle greenhouse gasoline emissions and local weather change. The choice on how New Mexico handles the matter may have an effect on electrical service within the state for many years.
PNM and Avangrid are making their arguments for the significance of this merger by adverts. “They are saying that shareholders are paying for this,” stated Mariel Nanasi of Santa Fe, a critic of the merger. “Nearly weekly now, they’re having adverts within the Albuquerque Journal and Santa Fe New Mexican.”
Tim Calkins, a medical professor of selling at Northwestern College in Illinois, stated “you need to be sure that the advantages come throughout” when corporations make a proposal like this. Calkins hasn’t studied the New Mexico scenario extensively.
“A few of the negatives are getting a number of consideration and overwhelming the positives,” he stated. He stated image-building for corporations is finest accomplished early as a result of “enjoying catch-up” is hard. “And while you miss that window, it’s arduous to beat it.”
Calkins stated of Avangrid: “The excellent news is that they’re taking the scenario significantly and so they’re working to deal with that.”
The 4 invoices to PNM from 3 Promoting had been acquired by Nanasi, head of New Vitality Financial system. Nanasi is a dogged adversary of PNM and the merger who has sought one doc after one other by the “discovery” course of allowed in Public Regulation Fee circumstances.
Paperwork which can be acquired by discovery are shared with dozens of different individuals in a case, corresponding to legal professionals and staffers, and will grow to be related to a case.
Avangrid has employed Joanie Griffin, a advertising and marketing and public relations specialist with Sunny505 in Albuquerque, to help it with adverts and media relations. Griffin stated she and her firm are getting paid their commonplace price, totaling $150 an hour.
The adverts are designed to “introduce the corporate” to New Mexico, Griffin stated in an e-mail. She helps write advert copy and devise the advertising and marketing technique, she stated.
“They employed me to have somebody on the crew that’s native and is aware of the media right here,” she wrote. “Promoting is likely one of the methods we use … to get the reality out.”
Griffin, contracted for service in Could, stated by e-mail, “I joined the hassle as a result of I imagine the merger is one of the best ways for New Mexico to attain the Governor’s targets of being 100% renewable by 2045.” She stated the suggestions she receives from individuals concerning the proposal is superb.
Some professional witnesses, corresponding to Scott Hempling, a Maryland legal professional who has written extensively about utilities, have supplied scorching written assessments of the merger proposal. The proposal is required by the fee to be within the public curiosity. Hempling stated the proposal appeared designed to learn shareholders relatively than the general public.
Fee listening to examiner Ashley Schannauer, who serves as a quasi decide with recommending authority to the fee on last selections, has made robust rulings towards the businesses. In a kind of, he instructed PNM and Avangrid to publicly disclose a letter that they had sought to maintain confidential.
In one other, Schannauer stated Iberdrola must be included as an applicant within the proceedings regardless of the corporate’s want to stay outdoors the method.
Albright stated PNM and Avangrid hoped to have a listening to in March, however that has been pushed to August. He stated of Avangrid leaders: “I don’t suppose that they had a great sense of each the method and the totally different entities that may be concerned out right here.”
The promoting has given many media retailers in New Mexico some good money, though none would say how a lot. One bill stated full-page adverts had been positioned in 9 New Mexico newspapers in Could. That bill from 3 Promoting confirmed a invoice of $180,763 to PNM.
PNM spokesman Ray Sandoval didn’t return messages for this story.
The corporate is also promoting with smaller media retailers.
“We’re getting at the very least two a month,” Las Vegas Optic advert consultant Cynthia Fitch stated. PNM and Avangrid usually run totally different adverts, she stated. She stated the New Mexico Press Affiliation assists her newspaper and others within the course of.
Not each media outlet has acquired a bit of advert income from the businesses within the merger course of. Invoice Anderson, vp and normal supervisor of KRQE-TV in Albuquerque, stated PNM has an account together with his tv station however Avangrid doesn’t.
Anderson stated: “We simply haven’t met the brand new guys but.”