Unified Action – January 2007 – El Paso Electric Franchise Agreement

Special Emergency Unified Action
Las Cruces El Paso Electric Franchise Agreement

Sponsored by Southwest Energy Alliance
Contact person: Stephen Fischmann

The Issue

Providing lower cost and cleaner electricity to Las Cruces residents
The city of Las Cruces is negotiating with El Paso Electric (EPE) for a new long-term franchise agreement that would eliminate options for bringing in lower cost and cleaner power suppliers for another 15 years. City staff is rushing final approval even though the current franchise agreement won’t expire for two more years. City Council is scheduled to vote on the new agreement Tuesday afternoon, January 16.

What we are asking

1. E-mail or call Las Cruces Mayor Bill Mattiace and the city council members with the following message (but use your own words):

Please postpone approval of any new franchise agreement with El Paso Electric until 2009, when the current agreement expires. There are too many question marks about the potential impacts of a new long-term franchise agreement at this time. We are better off completing negotiations on a franchise deal after EPE’s current application for a rate increase is resolved, and we have had more time to evaluate where fast-moving power markets and changing utility regulations are headed.

2. If possible, come to the Las Cruces City Council meeting scheduled for 1 p.m. Tuesday, January 16 in council chambers at City Hall. Councilors have a difficult time voting against a large crowd standing in front of them. The franchise issue is unlikely to come up until 2 p.m.

Contact information for the City Council and the Mayor

1. To send a single message to the entire council and the mayor use CityCouncil@las-cruces.org. You can also visit the city council page of the Las Cruces City Web site. (You can follow links to find e-mail addresses for individual councilors as well as maps of each person’s district.)

2. You may call individual council members as follows:

Jose Frietz 556-1620
Dolores Archuleta 642-1680
Steve Trowbridge 526-4039
Gil Jones 202-0770
Ken Miyagishima 571-2440
Dolores Connor 541-2066 recused from this vote

Why We Need to Preserve Options to El Paso Electric

EPE is one of the most expensive utilities in the country. Residential consumers it serves in Las Cruces and Doña Ana County pay 50 to 80% more than electricity consumers in Albuquerque. The current cost to the Las Cruces economy is about $30 million per year. EPE has recently applied for an additional 18% rate increase with the Public Regulation Commission.

EPE has resisted incorporating renewable and clean technologies into its operations. Heavy paperwork requirements and poor reimbursement rates for renewable energy fed back into the grid have stymied solar installations. There are only eight solar installations hooked into the power grid in EPE’s New Mexico service area.

Upon completion of any of the above actions, please email “I did it” to unifiedaction@pva-nm.org.

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