EPE CEO Kelly Tomblin | Photo courtesy EP Electric

Op-Ed: EPE CEO Kelly Tomblin: Transforming the Energy Landscape

As EPE embarks on 120 years of service for West Texas and Southern New Mexico, we are looking forward to the future and the opportunity to transform the energy landscape. 2020 presented us with unimaginable challenges, but we are grateful for the resilience and collective support of our customers, community and our employees.

To deliver the power critical during this time, we are proud that our frontline workers continue to go into the field every day, supported by other committed employees who have modified their operations.

To support our community, we have also suspended disconnections activities, connected those in need with supportive agencies, and modified operations to prevent outages during the school day. In all, our partners provided more than $4.9 million in customer assistance programs to more than 42,000 customers.

Simultaneously, we continued our strong commitment to community giving and economic development with more than $1.4 million in community contributions to about 140 nonprofits.

During 2020, our customers set a record-breaking use of electricity, which made it abundantly clear that the energy resource choices we made previously were the right ones to meet our customers’ energy demands. This supply includes almost 500 megawatts (MW) of new power—200MW of solar, 50MW of battery storage, and 228MW of natural gas.

Newman Unit 6 is a state-of-the-art s replacement unit that will replace three older, less-efficient, unreliable units that are 60+ years old and save 600 million gallons of water per year.

By 2025, these efforts will allow EPE to reduce carbon emissions by 25%. The Economic Impact Analysis estimates a total economic impact to the national economy of $253 million and a total regional economic impact of $45.5 million. Our goal is to triple the use of renewables and improve reliability simultaneously and Newman Unit 6 is critical to the clean energy future for all our customers in both New Mexico and Texas.

Despite the logistical obstacles created by the pandemic, EPE’s economic development department continues to work alongside our partners to market our region as a place to do business.

There were over 1,700 jobs announced in 2020 from businesses joining our market, such as Amazon’s Fulfillment Center. The success of 2020 was on par with the impact EPE made in 2019, which was an overall regional economic impact of $889 million, 2,446 jobs created and experienced a labor income impact of over $189 million.

EPE will ensure that these new businesses, along with every other customer, will have the electric service they need and deserve.

Our more than 1,100 team members were also valiant in their ability to serve beyond their formal capacity at EPE by consistently doing what they can to help our community power through.

Through various efforts, from donating to our local frontline workers in hospitals, fire stations and sister utilities, to surpassing our philanthropic fundraising goals for our annual employee-led United Way donation, to spreading messages of hope and inspiration through social media, our employees – who also call this region home – have stepped up in a way that will never be forgotten.

Positioning EPE well for the future, we finalized our change of ownership, which included the following benefits, among others:

  • Local workforce retention and development opportunities
  • Maintenance of a local headquarters and electric bill credits for customers
  • $100 million in economic development

Looking forward, EPE plans to implement new technologies and customer programs including, advanced metering systems, predictive maintenance technology, electric vehicle infrastructure, and more self- service customer tools that will help position our region as a preferred place to live, work and do business.

Most recently, we launched our online store, EP Electric Marketplace, that offers customers products to save energy and money.

For many reasons, 2020 was a pivotal time for all of us, but it also gave us an opportunity to reflect on who we are and what is most important to our customers.

With our customers, community and employees top of mind, our new mission – Transforming the Energy Landscape – will be how EPE charts a new path forward for innovations that will drive the economic vibrancy our region deserves.

We have endured so much but we have emerged more committed, prouder and more determined than ever. We know that if we can stand together during this year, we can rise together in the upcoming ones.

Author: El Paso Electric CEO Kelly Tomblin

Tomblin is author of “100 Days of Doing Power Differently” and “Think Love Leadership” has worked for more than 25 years in the energy industry, in both competitive and vertically integrated markets throughout the United States, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom and Latin America.

She has experience in the generation, transmission and distribution sectors as well as renewable development, and energy services and sales. Ms. Tomblin has worked in all areas of the industry, including legal, customer service, regulatory, plant and field operations, and organization transformation.



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