An Albuquerque lawyer hired by a Spanish utility company for a proposed merger with the utility company is in a conflict of interest and is expected to stop working for the multinational company, a Regulatory Commission official said on Friday public.
Marcus Rael had been hired as a lobbyist for $ 400 an hour by Iberdrola of Spain, its subsidiary Avangrid, based in Connecticut, wants to merge with PNM.
The law firm of Rael, Robles, Rael & Anaya, has also done extensive contractual work for the Attorney General’s office, a key player in the merger proposal, which will be the subject of hearings later this month. this.
Public Regulatory Commission hearing examiner Ashley Schannauer, who is acting as a quasi-judge in the merger proceeding, declined to comment on whether Attorney General Hector Balderas also had a conflict of interest. Schannauer said the issue is beyond the commission’s jurisdiction and should be taken to court if a decision is desired.
Nonetheless, he wrote, he and the commission “can and will consider” the actions of Iberdrola and the Attorney General “as they assess the reasonableness” of a provisional “stipulation,” or agreement, in the proposal.
Matt Baca, chief attorney for the attorney general’s office, called the issue a “show”. He said in a statement that the merger proposal could now proceed “on the merits”.
Rael said in a statement on Friday afternoon: “I don’t think there is a conflict of interest, but of course I will honor the order of the hearing examiner. I joined the Avangrid / Iberdrola team because I believe this merger is in the best interest of New Mexicans and I am proud of the work I have done. “
The charge of conflict was raised primarily by Mariel Nanasi, lawyer and head of Santa Fe-based New Energy Economy, a longtime PNM critic.
Nanasi objected to the fact that Rael was hired earlier this year by Iberdrola and had numerous meetings with Balderas before the attorney general expressed support for the merger proposal. Balderas and Raël are longtime friends.
Avangrid said in a written statement on Friday: “We do not believe there is a conflict of interest, but we respect the decision of the Hearing Examiner and we will comply with the order.”