EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — El Paso City Council gave the okay for the proposed sale of El Paso Electric (EPE) to move to the next phase of the process, and also approved to look into costs of a feasibility study for municipalizing the utility as well.
City Reps. went through hours of negotiations to come to a settlement agreement, but still gave some hope to those who were demanding the City to take action when it comes to figuring out what’s best for the community.
“This is not just an issue with a small group of activists but this is becoming a voting issue. This is going to be something that city council is going to look at for however long El Paso is going to be in existence,” Andrew Torres, an Organizer with Sunrise El Paso told KTSM.
Torres is one of many fighting for climate change who made their voices heard when it comes to the City doing more research on potentially turning back the EPE deal from IIF and municipalizing the utility.
“We see this as this company is getting most of its electric source from fossil fuels and we need to be moving towards solar, towards renewables,” Torres shared, “El Paso is the 10th sunniest city in the entire world, we need to be working towards solar. With JP Morgan, with IIF coming in and trying to buy the electric company from us, it’s something we see as a climate justice issue.”
On Tuesday, City Council unanimously voted in favor of looking at how much a feasibility study would cost for the City to look into buying EPE. However, Council also approved a settlement agreement for the sale to move forward in the process of being sold to IIF.
“That feasibility study, we haven’t even began to develop the scope,” Robert Cortinas, CFO with the City of El Paso said, “They already talked about the time frame in relation to what the public utility commission is going to be faced as far as their decision and time frame. I see the two as two completely separate items.”
Although the process will move forward, many are still hoping something can change before the deal is done.
“As climate activists that’s our goal to speak to our abuelitas, to speak to our abuelitos, to speak to our tias and tios… and get across to them and let them know this is very important for our future,” Torres shared.
The City Manager has 30 days from Tuesday until coming back to Council with an update.
Keep in mind, the deadline between the EPE and IIF sale is in February.