Bloomfield uncertain about infrastructure it seeks

Dan Schwartz The Daily Times
The Daily Times

FARMINGTON — The city of Bloomfield is suing the city of Farmington in an effort to buy electric utilities located within its city limits, but city officials don't know how much infrastructure that includes or how much it would cost.

The city filed a lawsuit in Aztec District Court against Farmington on Aug. 18, claiming it broke a contract that would allow Bloomfield to buy the electric utilities within its city limits. The utilities are part of the Farmington Electric Utility System.

Farmington officials gave Bloomfield documents that list the infrastructure located within Bloomfield's boundaries, but Bloomfield officials are still reviewing them, City Attorney Ryan Lane said.

"We don't know the extent of Farmington's assets yet within the city limits of Bloomfield," Lane said.

Farmington City Manager Rob Mayes said the infrastructure Bloomfield has rights to is "virtually nonexistent today."

Bloomfield's complaint cites a 1960 court order that allows it to buy infrastructure within its limits, but Mayes said the order entitles Bloomfield only to infrastructure that existed that year.

"Obviously 55 years later Farmington has had to invest significant capital to upgrade and replace that antiquated equipment in order to reliably serve our customers," Mayes said in a written statement. He added that Bloomfield is suing to acquire "against our will" Farmington's upgraded infrastructure.

Mayes said the city is concerned mainly for the sake of its customers, who pay the lowest electricity rates in the region. He doubts Bloomfield, with its own utility, could provide the same level of service.

But Bloomfield is losing revenue, Mayor Scott Eckstein has said. When its residents pay their utility bills, the profits go to Farmington, he has said. If Bloomfield owned its own utilities, he has said, the city could use the payments made by its residents to upgrade the city.

Dan Schwartz covers government for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4606 and Follow him @dtdschwartz on Twitter.