I’ve heard rumors that J.P. Morgan is having a little hard time coming up with the $4.3 billion they need to buy EPEC. Investors are wondering why the utility commands a 17% premium over market capitalization, especially since the departure of former El Paso Electric CEO Mary Kipp.
(I got a lot of information for this article from this piece by Vic Kolenc in the El Paso Times.)
If that deal falls through, watch how quick all those people who were telling us the City can’t afford to buy the utility change their minds and start lobbying for the City buyout.
And there are other reasons why any deal to buy El Paso Electric might not make good sense, as articulated in this Letter to the Editor, written by former UTEP professor David Nemir, in the online edition of the El Paso Inc.:
[Electric utilities’] long term planning is complicated by a seismic shift presently underway in the power business, driven by solar panels and electric cars. Future electric power needs will be well served by cheap solar generation and by the advent of low-cost batteries (coming soon) for nighttime storage. Power companies are likely to become less relevant but will be stuck with paying for assets with a 40-year life.
El Paso should embrace rooftop solar. How many solar panels could we put on the roofs of El Paso homes for the billions the City considering, or pretending to consider, paying for the Electric Company? El Paso should be a mecca for energy independence, instead of slavish dependence.
But our 2016 vintage City Council accepted a rate plan that let El Paso Electric charge a $30 minimum for rooftop solar customers. The Electric Company even hired a Big Tobacco propagandist to promote their scheme. Those are our “friends” at EPEC.
We need to phase El Paso Electric out. Their generation stations run on natural gas, and diesel. At least we’ve still got a chunk of Palo Verde. Remember when nuclear used to be the bad guy?
Mostly, though, we need a City Government that represents El Pasoans, and not special interests. For that, we need informed voters showing up at the polls.
I can dream, can’t I?