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Socorro explores setting up its own electric utility

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The city of Socorro is exploring the possibility of setting up its own electric utility.

According to a story in the El Defensor Chieftain, the Socorro City Council earlier this week approved a resolution to commission a feasibility study exploring the possibility of separating from the Socorro Electric Co-op.

The resolution, according to the document, will “assist in the development of a community and industrial park that is economically competitive with areas throughout New Mexico and which will be able to offer a price structure and stability found in other communities in regard to electric services…”

The study will cost the city an estimated $30,000, according to Mayor Ravi Bhasker.

The decision comes on the coattails of a study by the University of New Mexico’s Bureau of Business and Economic commissioned by the city last year, which found that the average Socorro household could save $755.90 per year, including $182.16 in direct savings from lower residential electricity bills and an additional $476.90 in indirect savings passed on by commercial and industrial users who would pay lower electricity costs.

Finding a way to lower commercial and industrial electricity costs to aid in the city’s economic development is a large part of the council’s plan. According to the resolution, the the Co-op has had “a negative impact on the ability of this community to fully realize the economic potential of the area…”

“We’re in a position where we need to start exploring as many options as we can,” Councilman Michael Olguin Jr. told the council. “Hopefully we can be in a position sooner rather than later to begin attracting new businesses with our industrial park.”

Bhasker said he wanted an unbiased, third-party contractor to conduct the upcoming feasibility study.

“This is not the city of Socorro doing the study,” he said “We will contract with a vendor to do the study.”

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