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Utilities Going Green To Save You Green

By ABC-7 Reporter Martin Bartlett

EL PASO — El Paso Electric Co. and El Paso Water Utility are going in together on a plan that could lower your bills for both, officials from both utilities told ABC-7.

EPE has agreed to give customer EPWU a big break on the rates it pays at two of it’s wastewater treatment plants — at the Robert Bustamante and Jonathan Rogers plans in the Lower Valley.

“Energy is out number one cost center,” said EPWU CEO Ed Archuleta.

In exchange for that lower rate, the electric company has the right to dramatically cut down on how much electricity it delivers to the plants for up to 300 hours a year with only a half-hour’s notice.

It may be unsettling for EPWU customers fearful that a sudden power cut might effect sewer service. But Archuleta said the problem is actually part of the solution.

“We have methane that we burn as part of our waster-water process,” he said.

They can turn that methane into enough electrcity to run the plants if — and when — they’re temporarily taken off the grid.

El Paso Electric engineer John Carpenter was in on the negotiations and said EPE can only cut power during an emergency and only if they need to shift that power to other customers at peak hours.

“In 30 minutes, they have to cut their usage down to the level they’ve agreed to — otherwise they’re going to pay a big penalty,” he said.

Those interruptions would be rare and those penalties would likely be rarer still.

“We see it as a tremendous win for us and for them and for both or our customers,” Archuleta said.

El Paso Water Utilities is also shifting some of their more intense processes to night-time when the power is cheaper.

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