El Paso City Council passes El Paso Electric franchise agreement

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EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – El Paso City Council approved a new franchise agreement with El Paso Electric’s potential new owners.

Remember, the Electric Company pays a small portion of its revenue to the city.

City staff and outside legal counsel says they have worked hundreds of hours searching for what they believe is the best option for the average El Pasoan when it comes to this franchise agreement.

Staff also says the approved deal has provisions they say will ultimately benefit the city and customers, including looking at a renewable energy study keeping the company’s headquarters in El Paso and protecting employees and ratepayers.

Citizen Howard Pearlmutter was one of many El Pasoans who fought to convince El Paso city leaders to deny the transfer of franchise agreement to IIF – Sun Jupiter, the entity slated to buy EPE.

“We pushed them really hard in a lot of ways and a lot of the provisions of these agreements and a lot of these legal documents are a lot of things we pushed for. We didn’t get everything we wanted, but we got a lot,” Pearlmutter said.

State Senator Jose Rodriguez was at today’s council meeting. He believes the city should have postponed its decision since the sale of El Paso Electric is still pending federal and state approvals.

Rodriguez says he is concerned there may be potential consequences down the line for taxpayers.

“The worst-case scenario is that if this transaction goes through, and then you find out later it is JP Morgan, who is not the owner but is in control of the new purchaser Sun Jupiter, and JP Morgan can dictate some transactions down the line,” Senator Jose Rodrigues said.

The city’s outside legal counsel, Norman Gordon, says if the sale of El Paso Electric is denied, the city will not lose anything.

“The ring fence provisions that the applicants agreed to that are part of the public utility commission order are designed to prevent things like JP Morgan coming into it and dictating the board of directors and the management of this company does whom they buy from and do transactions with,” Gordon explained.

Today’s vote was 4 to 2 in favor of the franchise agreement, with representatives Svarzbein and Annello voting no, with Representative Salcido abstaining, and Dr. Morgan absent.

EPE officials said they’d like to close the deal by early summer of this year, however still need those final approvals.

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