City Continues to Battle El Paso Electric's Rates
POSTED: Tuesday, October 4, 2011 - 3:36pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, October 4, 2011 - 9:46pm
EL PASO- The City of El Paso is taking on El Paso Electric. Council members want to force the power company to lower your rates.
After a long debate, the city voted unanimously to make El Paso Electric file a rate case.
"We’re going to move forward in the next three weeks to set a hearing for them to come before us and tell us why we shouldn't set temporary rates," says Cortney Niland, City Rep.
El Paso Electricity rates could fall temporarily in the next few weeks. But, El Paso Electric says the city should wait for the rate case. It says the hearing could cost the company millions and that customers would end up paying for it.
"Assuming the PUCT, or the public utility commission, allows those to be passed through and they normally do, it will be about $7 million is our estimate that's what we told counsel and that's why we thought a rate freeze was a better decision right now and then we would do a rate case in a year instead of doing this now," says Niland.
Niland says it's a small price to pay to permanently lower rates for the future.
"Their first initial assumptions were $5 million and $5 million divided by 280,000 Texas customers is $15. And if you annuitize that over a year it's $1.40," says Niland.
David Stevens from El Paso Electric says rates are higher because El Pasoans use less electricity.
"If we have a low volume of electricity going through that system because we peak real high and bottom out real low we have a very big swing between the two then unfortunately per unit is higher, but our overall bills are lower," says Stevens.
"It’s not consumption it's price, it's price per kilowatt hour and we can't consume anymore because we can't afford it. The rates are too high, bring your rates down to competitive levels and then we could possibly consume more and attract more business,” says Niland.
At the end of October, city leaders will meet again to discuss whether to drop rates temporarily. Niland says she's expecting to drop rates by 5 percent which would reverse the increase from last year.