El Paso Electric CEO Adresses Las Cruces City Council

Las Cruces, NM – El Paso Electric CEO David Stevens spoke to the City Council on Monday. He thanked city staff and officials for their hard work and residents for their cooperation during the rolling blackouts that occurred due to extreme cold temperatures in the area.

His remarks come after Las Cruces Public Schools, New Mexico State University, the City of Las Cruces, and Dona Ana County offices were closed for three days last week to take stress off the already taxed electrical system.

Stevens says there is now adequate power and he doesn't foresee any future issues associated with this outage.

Stevens-"We're going to go back and tear apart everything that happened. We're going to look at how we prepped for this storm, look at everything from a design parameter which we believe is the significant issue we had. We design our power plants primarily for what is called and 18 degree standard. So we're going to go back and look for lessons learned and how to better communicate and there is no doubt there are things to improve on."

The issues of communication and additional fuel costs were some main concerns brought forth by the council. Several council members including Dolores Connor asked Stevens to not charge residents for the fuel costs associated with the blackouts and expressed the need for better local communication.

Connor-"I'm very pleased overall with how things went, but I'm not pleased with how EPEC interacted with the community. The website doesn't have anything related to any of this information. There was no way to find out about anything that was happening unless you went to a city web page, so you were relying on the city of Las Cruces to put out all the info. I think that was not a fair situation to the residents. If anything is learned from this there needs to be a better communication system to individual residents."

Stevens says the company will be looking at short and long term solutions to the outage problems. He says the design needs to be changed to deal with more common excessive Southwest heat as well as the not as typical excessive cold.