EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — El Paso City leaders are moving forward with the El Paso Electric (EPE) sale to IIF, however still have many questions yet to be answered when it comes to finalizing the proposed franchise agreement.
The clock is ticking for El Paso City Reps. to make a decision whether or not they will approve the proposed franchise agreement.
City staff warned council the potential loss it could face if choosing to ultimately deny it.
Miguel Escoto has been attending City Council meetings and made his voice heard when it comes to the EPE sale to IIF, the investment group that would help transfer the money to Sun Jupiter Holdings.
However, city leaders still have to decide whether they will approve the electric utility’s proposed merger and franchise agreement.
“There was definitely and undeniably confusion. Everyone was confused as to the specifies of the franchise agreement, whether we can do it again,” Escoto shared, “All of this discussion, all this confusion proves that we need independent experts to look into this.”
City staff presented the EPE’s proposed merger and franchise agreement, reassuring its financial and economic development commitments. That includes IIF never moving EPE Headquarters, ensuring job security, and ratepayer security.
However, city staff also explained the possibilities of the City potentially losing local control if this proposed franchise agreement is denied.
“My concern is that they were telling us that if we denied the franchise agreement now, then another entity could buy El Paso Electric and we have no say so about whether or not they operate. It’s still confusing to me whether or not that’s the case,” City Rep. Peter Svarzbein shared.
Other City Reps. said they want to see more details in the proposed agreement and how it would best benefit the community as a whole.
“We shouldn’t be saying yes or no because we want to continue having power in the future, we want to say yes or no because it’s the best thing for our community,” City Rep. Alexsandra Annello said, “So we’ve really been working out this deal and I would say our team is working really hard to make sure we have the best franchise agreement possible.”
As the timeline stands, City Council is expected to make its vote on the franchise agreement on January 21st.
“This franchise agreement goes until 2060. For 40 years they’ll be able to operate in this community,” Svarzbein explained, “So I think it’s important for us as a council to understand how much the agreement is worth, further know how many billion of dollars, and whatever the cost is to understand what they’re getting out of it.”
The City has rescheduled its public meetings on the sale with EPE officials to be on Tuesday, January 14 at 5:30 p.m at El Paso Community College – Administrative Service Center Building A – (9050 Viscount Blvd. 79925)
The following meeting will occur on Thursday, January 16 at 5:30 p.m. at El Paso Polly Harris Senior Citizens Center (650 Wallenberg Drive 79912)