(EDGAR Online via COMTEX) -- ITEM 2. MANAGEMENT'S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS
The following Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations for PNMR is presented on a combined basis, including certain information applicable to PNM and TNMP. The MD&A for PNM and TNMP is presented as permitted by Form 10-Q General Instruction H(2). This report uses the term "Company" when discussing matters of common applicability to PNMR, PNM, and TNMP. A reference to a "Note" in this Item 2 refers to the accompanying Notes to Condensed Consolidated Financial Statements (Unaudited) included in Item 1, unless otherwise specified. Certain of the tables below may not appear visually accurate due to rounding.
MD&A FOR PNMR
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Overview and Strategy
PNMR is a holding company with two regulated utilities serving approximately 801,000 residential, commercial, and industrial customers and end-users of electricity in New Mexico and Texas. PNMR's electric utilities are PNM and TNMP. PNMR strives to create a clean and bright energy future for customers, communities, and shareholders. PNMR's strategy and decision-making are focused on safely providing reliable, affordable, and environmentally responsible power built on a foundation of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) principles.
On October 20, 2020, PNMR, Avangrid and Merger Sub entered into the Merger Agreement pursuant to which Merger Sub will merge with and into PNMR, with PNMR surviving the Merger as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Avangrid.
Pursuant to the Merger Agreement, each issued and outstanding share of the common stock of PNMR (other than (i) the issued shares of PNMR common stock that are owned by Avangrid, Merger Sub, PNMR or any wholly-owned subsidiary of Avangrid or PNMR, which will be automatically cancelled at the Effective Time and (ii) shares of PNMR common stock outstanding immediately prior to the Effective Time and held by a holder who has not voted in favor of, or consented in writing to, the Merger who is entitled to, and who has demanded, payment for fair value of such shares) at the Effective Time will be converted into the right to receive $50.30 in cash.
The proposed Merger has been unanimously approved by the Boards of Directors of PNMR, Avangrid and Merger Sub and approved by PNMR shareholders at the Special Meeting of Shareholders held on February 12, 2021. On January 20, 2021, the FTC notified PNMR and Avangrid that early termination of the waiting period under the HSR Act in connection with the Merger was granted. CFIUS completed its review of the Merger on February 2, 2021, and has concluded that there are no unresolved national security concerns with respect to the Merger. On March 10, 2021, PNMR and Avangrid received FCC approval of the transfer of operating licenses related to the Merger. If the Merger is not completed within 180 days of March 10, 2021, then extension of FCC approval will be required. On April 20, 2021, FERC issued an order authorizing the Merger. Consummation of the Merger remains subject to the satisfaction or waiver of certain customary closing conditions, including, without limitation, the absence of any material adverse effect on PNMR, the receipt of required regulatory approvals (including the PUCT, the NMPRC, and the NRC), and the agreements relating to the divestiture of Four Corners being in full force and effect and all applicable regulatory filings associated therewith being made. The agreement relating to the divestiture of Four Corners has been entered into and related filings have been made with the NMPRC. The Merger is currently expected to close in the second half of 2021.
On March 30, 2021, TNMP, Merger Sub, Avangrid and all parties to the stipulation (the "Signatories") filed a unanimous stipulation and agreement in its Joint Application for approval of the Merger. The Signatories to the unanimous stipulation agree that a negotiated resolution of this proceeding is in the public interest, will conserve the parties' resources, and will eliminate controversy. The approval of the unanimous stipulation is included on the PUCT's May 6, 2021 open meeting agenda. On April 20, 2021, PNM, PNMR, Merger Sub, Avangrid (the "Joint Applicants"), the NMAG, WRA, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 611, Dine, Nava Education Project, the San Juan Citizens Alliance and To Nizhoni Ani, entered into a stipulation and agreement in the Joint Application for approval of Merger pending before the NMPRC. On April 23, 2021, an amended stipulation was filed, which joined CCAE in the stipulation and updated certain stipulated regulatory requirements. On April 25, 2021, the Hearing Examiner in the case issued an order vacating the pre-hearing conference and procedural schedule. The order requires the Joint Applicants to meet with all parties to discuss and negotiate, in good faith, a potential stipulation and establishes a deadline of May 7, 2021 for the Joint Applicants to file a stipulation and a proposed procedural schedule.
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On April 1, 2021, PNM joined and began participating in the EIM. The EIM is a real-time wholesale energy trading market operated by the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) that enables participating electric utilities to buy and sell energy. The EIM aggregates the variability of electricity generation and load for multiple balancing authority areas and utility jurisdictions. In addition, the EIM facilitates greater integration of renewable resources through the aggregation of flexible resources by capturing diversity benefits from the expanding geographic footprint and the expanded potential uses for those resources. PNM completed a cost-benefit analysis, which indicated participation in the EIM would provide substantial benefits to retail customers. In 2018, PNM filed an application with the NMPRC requesting, among other things, to recover an estimated $20.9 million of initial capital investments and authorization to establish a regulatory asset to recover an estimated $7.4 million of other expenses that would be incurred in order to join the EIM. The NMPRC approved the establishment of a regulatory asset but deferred certain rate making issues, including but not limited to issues related to implementation and ongoing EIM costs and savings, the prudence and reasonableness of costs to be included in the regulatory asset, and the period over which costs would be charged to customers until PNM's next general rate case filing.
Texas Winter Storm
In mid-February 2021, Texas experienced a severe winter storm delivering the coldest temperatures in 100 years for many parts of the state. As a result, the ERCOT market was not able to deliver sufficient generation load to the grid resulting in significant, statewide outages as ERCOT directed transmission operators to curtail thousands of firm load megawatts. TNMP complied with ERCOT directives to curtail the delivery of electricity in its service territory and did not experience significant outages on its system outside of the ERCOT directed curtailments. Though several REPs have filed for bankruptcy, TNMP has regulatory authorization to defer bad debt expense from REPs to a regulatory asset and seek recovery in a general rate case. At this time, the Company does not expect significant financial impacts related to this event.
Financial and Business Objectives
Earning authorized returns on regulated businesses
In conjunction with these objectives, PNM and TNMP are dedicated to:
Maintaining strong employee safety, plant performance, and system reliability
Earning Authorized Returns on Regulated Businesses
PNMR's success in accomplishing its financial objectives is highly dependent on two key factors: fair and timely regulatory treatment for its utilities and the utilities' strong operating performance. The Company has multiple strategies to achieve favorable regulatory treatment, all of which have as their foundation a focus on the basics: safety, operational excellence, and customer satisfaction, while engaging stakeholders to build productive relationships. Both PNM and TNMP seek cost recovery for their investments through general rate cases, periodic cost of service filings, and various rate riders.
Fair and timely rate treatment from regulators is crucial to PNM and TNMP in earning their allowed returns and critical for PNMR to achieve its financial objectives. PNMR believes that earning allowed returns is viewed positively by credit rating agencies and that improvements in the Company's ratings could lower costs to utility customers.
Additional information about rate filings is provided in Note 17 of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements in the 2020 Annual Reports on Form 10-K.
The rates PNM and TNMP charge customers are subject to traditional rate regulation by the NMPRC, FERC, and the PUCT.
New Mexico 2016 Rate Case - In January 2018, the NMPRC approved a settlement agreement that authorized PNM to implement an increase in base non-fuel rates of $10.3 million, which includes a reduction to reflect the impact of the decrease in
A ROE of 9.575%
PNM implemented 50% of the approved increase for service rendered beginning February 1, 2018, and implemented the rest of the increase for service rendered beginning January 1, 2019.
On December 29, 2020, Sierra Club filed a motion to re-open the NM 2016 Rate Case. The motion requests that the NMPRC re-open the NM 2016 Rate Case for the limited purpose of conducting a prudence review of certain Four Corners capital expenditures that the NMPRC deferred in its order approving the settlement agreement. Alternatively, Sierra Club requested that the deferred prudence review be conducted, and given weight as appropriate, in the Four Corners Abandonment Application. On February 10, 2021, the NMPRC rejected Sierra Club's motion to re-open the NM 2016 Rate Case and stated that issues on whether the terms of the ETA provide an opportunity for consideration of prudence for Four Corners undepreciated investments included in a financing order or what effects the rates approved in the NM 2016 Rate Case may have on determining energy transition cost should be considered in the Four Corners Abandonment Application.
2020 Decoupling Petition - On May 28, 2020, PNM filed a petition for approval of a rate adjustment mechanism that would decouple the rates of its residential and small power rate classes. Decoupling is a rate design principle that severs the link between the recovery of fixed costs of the utility through volumetric charges. If approved, customer bills would not be impacted until January 1, 2022. On October 2, 2020, PNM requested an order to vacate the public hearing and stay the proceeding until the NMPRC decides whether to entertain a petition to issue a declaratory order resolving the issues raised in the motions to dismiss. On October 7, 2020, the Hearing Examiner approved PNM's request to stay the proceeding and vacate the public hearing and on October 30, 2020 PNM filed a petition for declaratory order asking the NMPRC to issue an order finding that full revenue decoupling is authorized by the EUEA. On March 17, 2021, the NMPRC issued an order granting PNM's petition for declaratory order which commences a proceeding to address petitions. See Note 12. PNM cannot predict the outcome of this matter.
PVNGS Leased Interest Abandonment Application - On April 2, 2021, PNM filed the PVNGS Leased Interest Abandonment Application. In the application PNM is requesting NMPRC authorization to decertify and abandon its Leased Interest and to create regulatory assets for the associated remaining undepreciated investments with consideration of cost recovery of the undepreciated investments in a future rate case. PNM is also seeking NMPRC approval to sell and transfer the PNM-owned assets and nuclear fuel supply associated with the Leased Interest to SRP, which will be acquiring the Leased Interest from the lessors upon termination of the existing leases. In addition, PNM is seeking NMPRC approval for a 150 MW solar PPA combined with a 40 MW battery storage agreement, and a stand-alone 100 MW battery storage agreement to replace the Leased Interest. To ensure system reliability and load needs are met in 2023, when a majority of the leases expire, PNM is also requesting NMPRC approval for a 300 MW solar PPA combined with a 150 MW battery storage agreement. For additional information on PNM's Leased Interest and the associated abandonment application see Note 12 and Note 13.
Advanced Metering - Currently, TNMP has more than 242,000 advanced meters across its service territory. Beginning in 2019, the majority of costs associated with TNMP's AMS program are being recovered through base rates. On October 2, 2020, TNMP filed an application with the PUCT for authorization to implement necessary technological upgrades of approximately $46 million to its AMS program by November 2022. On January 14, 2021, the PUCT approved TNMP's application. TNMP will seek recovery of the investment associated with the upgrade in a future general rate proceeding or distribution cost recovery factor filing.
In February 2016, PNM filed an application with the NMPRC requesting approval of a project to replace its existing customer metering equipment with Advanced Metering Infrastructure ("AMI"), which was denied. As ordered by the NMPRC, PNM's 2020 filing for energy efficiency programs to be offered in 2021, 2022, and 2023 included a proposal for an AMI pilot project, although PNM did not recommend the proposal due to the limited benefits that are cost-effective under a pilot structure. On September 17, 2020, the Hearing Examiner in the energy efficiency case issued a recommended decision recommending that PNM's proposed 2021 energy efficiency and load management program be approved, with the exception of the proposed AMI pilot program. On October 28, 2020, the NMPRC approved the recommended decision.
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On April 5, 2021, TNMP filed its 2021 DCOS that requested an increase in annual distribution revenues of $14.0 million. TNMP requested a procedural schedule that would result in rates being effective in September 2021. See Note 12.
Rates PNM charges wholesale transmission customers are subject to traditional rate regulation by FERC. Rates charged to wholesale electric transmission customers are based on a formula rate mechanism pursuant to which rates for wholesale transmission service are calculated annually in accordance with an approved formula. The formula includes updating cost of service components, including investment in plant and operating expenses, based on information contained in PNM's annual financial report filed with FERC, as well as including projected transmission capital projects to be placed into service in the following year. The projections included are subject to true-up. Certain items, including changes to return on equity and depreciation rates, require a separate filing to be made with FERC before being included in the formula rate.
In May 2019, PNM filed an application with FERC requesting approval to purchase a new 153-mile long 345-kV transmission line and related facilities (the "Western Spirit Line"). Under related agreements, PNM will provide transmission service to approximately 800 MW of new wind generation to be located in eastern New Mexico beginning in 2021 using an incremental rate. All necessary regulatory approvals for PNM to purchase and provide transmission service from the Western Spirit Line have been obtained.
On March 12, 2021, PNM filed four unexecuted TSAs with FERC totaling 145 MW with Leeward Energy. The unexecuted TSAs provide long-term firm, point-to-point transmission service on PNM's transmission system. The unexecuted TSAs are based on the pro-forma transmission service agreements with certain non-conforming provisions under Attachment A of PNM's OATT and include PNM's OATT rate. PNM is filing the unexecuted TSAs at the request of Leeward because the parties have been unable to reach an agreement on the terms and conditions for transmission service. See Note 12.
Delivering At or Above Industry-Average Earnings and Dividend Growth
PNMR's financial objective to deliver at or above industry-average earnings and dividend growth enables investors to realize the value of their investment in the Company's business. Earnings growth is based on ongoing earnings, which is a non-GAAP financial measure that excludes from GAAP earnings certain non-recurring, infrequent, and other items that are not indicative of fundamental changes in the earnings capacity of the Company's operations. PNMR uses ongoing earnings to evaluate the operations of the Company and to establish goals, including those used for certain aspects of incentive compensation, for management and employees.
PNMR targets a dividend payout ratio in the 50% to 60% range of its ongoing earnings. PNMR expects to provide at or above industry-average dividend growth in the near-term. The Board will continue to evaluate the dividend on an annual basis, considering sustainability and growth, capital planning, and industry standards.
Under the terms of the Merger Agreement, PNMR has agreed not to declare, set aside, make or pay any dividend or other distribution, payable in cash, stock, property or otherwise, with respect to any of its equity securities, or make any other actual, constructive or deemed distribution in respect of any equity securities (except (i) PNMR may continue the declaration and payment of planned regular quarterly cash dividends on PNMR common stock for each quarterly period ended after the date of the Merger Agreement, in an amount not to exceed $0.3275 for any fiscal quarters in 2021 and 2022, with usual record and payment dates in accordance with past dividend practice, and (ii) for any cash dividend or cash distribution by a wholly-owned subsidiary of PNMR to PNMR or another wholly-owned subsidiary of PNMR).
The Board approved the following increases in the indicated annual common stock dividend:
Approval Date Percent Increase December 2019 6.0% December 2020 6.5%
Maintaining Investment Grade Credit Ratings
The Company is committed to maintaining investment grade credit ratings in order to reduce the cost of debt financing and to help ensure access to credit markets, when required. See the subheading Liquidity included in the full discussion of Liquidity and Capital Resources below for the specific credit ratings for PNMR, PNM, and TNMP. All of the credit ratings issued by both Moody's and S&P on the Company's debt continue to be investment grade.
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To achieve its business objectives, focus is directed in key areas: Safe, Reliable and Affordable Power; Utility Plant and Strategic Investments; Environmentally Responsible Power; and Customer, Stakeholders, and Community Engagement. The Company works closely with its stakeholders to ensure that resource plans and infrastructure investments benefit from robust public dialogue and balance the diverse needs of our communities. Equally important is the focus of PNMR's utilities on customer satisfaction and community engagement.
Safe, Reliable, and Affordable Power
Safety is the first priority of our business and core value of the Company. PNMR utilizes a Safety Management System to provide clear direction, objectives and targets for managing safety performance and minimizing risks and empowers employees to "Be the Reason Everyone Goes Home Safe".
PNMR measures reliability and benchmark performance of PNM and TNMP against other utilities using industry-standard metrics, including System Average Interruption Duration Index ("SAIDI"), System Average Interruption Frequency Index ("SAIFI") and Customer Average Interruption Duration Index ("CAIDI"). PNM's and TNMP's investment plans include projects designed to support reliability and reduce the amount of time customers are without power.
PNMR and its utilities are aware of the important roles they play in enhancing economic vitality in their service territories. Management believes that maintaining strong and modern electric infrastructure is critical to ensuring reliability and supporting economic growth. When contemplating expanding or relocating their operations, businesses consider energy affordability and reliability to be important factors. PNM and TNMP strive to balance service affordability with infrastructure investment to maintain a high level of electric reliability and to deliver a safe and superior customer experience. Investing in PNM's and TNMP's infrastructure is critical to ensuring reliability and meeting future energy needs. Both utilities have long-established records of providing customers with safe and reliable electric service.
In March 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic and President Trump declared the COVID-19 pandemic a national emergency in the U.S. The Company continues to closely monitor developments and has taken and continues to take steps to mitigate the potential risks related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Company has assessed and updated its existing business continuity plans in response to the impacts of the pandemic through crisis team meetings and working with other utilities and operators. It has identified its critical workforce, staged backups and limited access to control rooms and critical assets. The Company has worked to protect the safety of its employees using a number of measures, including minimizing exposure to other employees and the public and supporting work-from-home and flexible arrangements for all applicable job functions. The Company is also working with its suppliers to manage the impacts to its supply chain and remains focused on the integrity of its information systems and other technology systems used to run its business. However, the Company cannot predict the extent or duration of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, its effects on the global, national or local economy, or on the Company's financial position, results of operations, and cash flows. The Company will continue to monitor developments related to COVID-19 and will remain focused on protecting the health and safety of its customers, employees, contractors, and other stakeholders, and on its objective to provide safe, reliable, affordable and environmentally responsible power. As discussed in Note 12, both PNM and TNMP suspended disconnecting certain customers for past due bills, waived late fees during the pandemic, and have been provided regulatory mechanisms to recover these and other costs resulting from COVID-19.
Utility Plant and Strategic Investments
Utility Plant Investments - During the 2019 and 2020 periods, PNM and TNMP together invested $1.3 billion in utility plant, including substations, power plants, nuclear fuel, and transmission and distribution systems. New Mexico's clean energy future depends on a reliable, resilient, secure grid to deliver an evolving mix of energy resources to customers. PNM has launched the Wired for the Future capital initiative, which emphasizes new investments in its transmission and distribution infrastructure with three primary objectives:
Strategic Investments - In 2017, PNMR Development and AEP OnSite Partners created NMRD to pursue the acquisition, development, and ownership of renewable energy generation projects, primarily in the state of New Mexico. Abundant renewable resources, large tracts of affordable land, and strong government and community support make New Mexico a favorable location for renewable generation. New Mexico ranks third in the Nation for energy potential from solar power according to the Nebraska Department of Energy & Energy Sun Index and ranks third in the Nation for land-based wind capacity according to the U.S. Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. PNMR Development and AEP OnSite Table of Contents
Integrated Resource Plan
NMPRC rules require that investor-owned utilities file an IRP every three years. . . .
Apr 30, 2021
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