Unified Action – May 2015

Sponsored by Merrie Lee Soules and Steve Fischmann

Ask Elected Officials to Intervene in El Paso Electric Rate Case

The issue

El Paso Electric has filed a rate case with the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission requesting a 7.1% increase in non-fuel-related revenue and a change to some major features of the current rate structure. New Mexico ratepayers should be benefiting from reductions in fuel costs and investments in solar, renewable energy, and energy-efficiency initiatives like the LED street lighting in Las Cruces. Instead, New Mexico ratepayers are being asked to finance El Paso Electric’s building spree, subsidize Texas, and punish actions that benefit us all.

Both the City of Las Cruces and Doña Ana County have said they will intervene on behalf of their constituents in El Paso Electric rate cases and other filings El Paso Electric makes with the New Mexico PRC. However, this has not happened. El Paso Electric has filed a rate case and made 3 other filings that affect all of us in southern New Mexico. Neither the City nor the County have intervened on our behalf.

What we are asking

Send an email to the Mayor of Las Cruces and the Chair of the County Commission with a copy to Tom Shockley, President and CEO of El Paso Electric.

County Commission Chair, Billy Garrett: bgarrett@donaanacounty.org
Mayor of Las Cruces, Ken Miyagishima: kmiyagishima@las-cruces.org
El Paso Electric CEO, Tom Shockley: tom.shockley@epelectric.com

Write something like:

In regard to the upcoming El Paso Electric rate case, I request the filing of intervener status on my behalf to accomplish the following:

  1. Minimize the New Mexico Revenue Requirement so that New Mexicans pay no more than our fair share
  2. Use rate design to reward desired behavior:
  • Incentives (not disincentives) for solar and other distributed generation of renewable energy
  • Meaningful incentives that reduce peak demand usage and encourage energy conservation
  • Expansion of interruptible rate opportunities

Thank you,

Additional Information:

El Paso Electric Files 2015 New Mexico Rate Case

May 12, 2015

On Monday, May, 11, 2015, El Paso Electric (EPE) filed with the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (NMPRC) for an increase in electric rates of approximately $8.6 million or 7.1 percent of non-fuel base rates. These proposed rates will result in a 9 percent increase, on average, to total residential bills.

“Several years ago, we began planning and investing to replace our less efficient plant and equipment while providing additional resources for our growing service territory,” said Tom Shockley, El Paso Electric CEO. “This rate case is about recovering these cost-effective investments and ensuring that we continue to provide safe and reliable service at a reasonable cost. We continue to see significant growth in our service territory and with that growth we must continue to make improvements and upgrades to El Paso Electric’s infrastructure and equipment to continue to have the most reliable and safest grid possible.”

EPE last filed for a non-fuel base rate increase in New Mexico in 2009. Since then, EPE has placed in service approximately $1.3 billion in new assets.  The most significant investments include Montana Power Station generating units 1 and 2 at $206 million, the Eastside Operations Center at $40 million and the Montana Power Station transmission lines at $20 million.

“No one likes it when bills go up. This is why we’re telling our customers about changes now, because it is our responsibility to you, our customer,” added Shockley. “We believe customers have a right to know exactly what’s going on with their electric utility, especially when bills may be going up.  This process takes time, and proposed rates will not go into effect until our regulators make the final decision in 2016. “

EPE has carefully taken each class and their cost of service into consideration when determining the new proposed rates. EPE’s revised rates proposed in this filing are reasonable and necessary to provide safe and reliable service. Although EPE has experienced consistent customer growth, increased revenues due to customer growth are not sufficient to cover increased operating costs and plant additions.

The proposed rate change and bill impact for major customer classes include: 

Cost of Service – Classes Average Total Bill Increase
Residential Service 9.0%
Partial Requirements 9.0%
Small General Service 0.0%
General Service 0.0%
Irrigation Service 4.5%
Water Pumping Service 0.0%
Large Power Service 0.0%
Military Research & Dev. Service 0.0%
Street Lighting Service 20%
Private Area Lighting 0.0%
Seasonal Agricultural 4.5%
Outdoor Recreational Lighting 20%
State University Service 2.4%

In addition, key factors affecting the Rate Case filing include:

  • New and existing generation units with supporting substation and transmission facilities
  • Distribution plant
  • Operations and maintenance expenses.
  • Significant reduction in the cost of fuel and purchased power costs, which reflect reduced fuel prices and improvements in system.

“For more than 113 years, your regional electric utility has been dedicated to the long-term success and well-being of our community,” Shockley concluded. “We continue to focus and receive national recognition on our utility-scale solar energy production and continue to build a balanced energy portfolio with other cost-effective technologies, including our quick-start, clean burning natural gas generators, in order to prepare for our region’s growth. We make these investments in the grid for you, our customers, because we are part of the community we serve and we are investing in your future. As a regulated utility, it is our responsibility and obligation to provide clean, safe and reliable energy to you every day.”