EL PASO, Texas -- Despite opposition voiced over several hours by some in the community at Tuesday's meeting, El Paso City Council gave it's approval to an agreement that allows for the sale of El Paso Electric to an investment arm of JP Morgan Chase.
"The City Council's action today is disappointing, and I hope, does not harm us down the line," said State Sen. José Rodríguez, one of those who spoke in opposition.
Council members Peter Svarzbein and Alexsandra Anello were the only votes against transferring the El Paso Electric franchise agreement to the investment firm. (Isabel Salcido abstained and Sam Morgan was absent from the meeting.)
As part of the transfer deal, El Paso Electric will keep its headquarters in the city and the utility commits to maintaining current employment levels here.
Shortly after the council action, the Infrastructure Investments Fund and El Paso Electric issued a statement of thanks to the city:
"We want to thank the City of El Paso for approval of the franchise assignment application. We look forward to continuing to engage and invest in EPE’s communities over the long-term to benefit EPE’s customers, employees and communities and to further the development of a sustainable path for protecting the environment and a clean energy future."
But Sen. Rodriguez questioned the promises made to the city by IIF and whether those could be relied upon.
"It is JP Morgan employees who manage the Infrastructure Investment Fund, and ultimately, the potential that it is JP Morgan, not those with whom we are dealing face to face, who will call the shots in the coming years."
The IIF said it anticipates its takeover of El Paso Electric to close by mid-year once it finalizes all the regulatory approvals.
The utility serves over 430,000 customers in west Texas and southern New Mexico.