Smells Fishy

The El Paso Inc. this week came out with this enticing story:

An El Paso businessman has commissioned an independent financial study examining the upcoming sale of El Paso Electric to a private equity firm as some in El Paso raise questions about the deal, including former Mayor Larry Francis.
Businessman Ted Houghton has commissioned Ken Anderson, a former member of the Public Utility Commission of Texas, to study the financial aspects of El Paso Electric’s sale to JP Morgan’s Infrastructure Investments Fund.
Houghton, founder of Houghton Financial Partners and former chair of the Texas Transportation Commission, said the study should be ready this week.

Hmm. You remember how it was going down? From a June 3 story on the El Paso Times website:

El Paso Electric has agreed to be sold to J.P. Morgan’s Infrastructure Investments Fund (IIF) for $4.3 billion, including debt, the utility announced Monday.
El Paso Electric would continue to operate as an independently operated utility headquartered in El Paso with the current executive team managing it, and the utility’s 1,100 employees would remain in place, according to a news release.
However, the company would no longer be a publicly traded company if the deal is approved by El Paso Electric shareholders and government regulators.
The deal, which was unanimously approved by El Paso Electric’s board of directors, is expected to be completed in the first half of 2020, El Paso Electric reported.

And then there’s this, about a month later, from the El Paso Times on July 1:

El Paso Electric President and Chief Executive Officer Mary Kipp will leave the company Aug. 1 to take a job as president and eventual CEO of Puget Sound Energy in the Seattle area, company officials announced Monday.

That’s just about how long it took for the ink to dry. Ms. Kipp can’t wait to get out of El Paso.

The (unconfirmed) word on the street is that EPEC sold off it’s long term debt and is currently operating on 90-day loans. As though the Board of Directors were just fattening the goose before they sold it.

Any financial malfeasance would come home to roost in the form of rate increases for the poor El Pasoans who aren’t able to move to Seattle to take jobs as CEOs of regional energy companies.

You know who you are.

But not to worry, El Paso. Our Mayor Dee Margo is on the job, calling for a comprehensive investigation of the sale.

Not really. Mayor Margo’s all for it.

From the Inc.:

“We have enough to say grace over, figuring out how to run public safety and streets without taking on the utility,” Margo said. “I don’t think that’s the highest or best use of our resources or dollars.”

I wonder if Mayor Margo owns El Paso Electric stock.

3 comments

  1. Ironically enough, I grew up in the State of Washington. And, I clearly remember our electricity being City owned in both Tacoma and Seattle. Apparently, that is no longer true, and the entity where Ms. Kipp is going to work looks as if they have taken over. Sad, because I recall clean energy (mostly hydrapower in those days) for electricity and the Gas came from another entity. It is also ironic that our Mayor would pooh-pooh the idea of El Paso taking over our local electricity, because one would think he’d be drooling over that ‘new’ revenue stream. Obviously, the bottom line is that our bottom line is going to get worse, individually and collectively.

    1. I wonder the same thing, Rich. FYI, Dee reported owning less than 500 shares of El Paso Electric (“EE”) stock in his 2015 and 2016 financial disclosures.
      And, Dee filed his financial disclosures for 2016 with the Texas Ethics Commission on 4/2/17, around two months before he was elected mayor.

      Like his undisclosed financial stake in Borderplex REIT, Dee’s 2017 and 2018 financial disclosures make no reference to his ownership of EE shares, but Texas law requires Dee to report any sale of stock, including whether he recorded a gain or loss on the transaction.

      So what happened to Dee’s EE shares? Stay tuned and follow the money with me.

  2. Margo is a dumb, fat, Alabama cousin fu$&king hillbilly. Nobody likes him. But Mary Kipp. Sheeesh. I’d hit that like it owed me money. One man’s opinion.

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