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Bloomfield hears update on electric utility efforts, Guzman Energy contracts

Hannah Grover
Farmington Daily Times
Bloomfield City Attorney Ryan Lane speaks while on stage with City Councilor Curtis Lynch, Mayor Cynthia Atencio, consultant Edwin Reyes, Guzman Energy Managing Director Jeffrey Heit and Guzman Energy attorney Robin Lunt during a meeting on May 29, 2019 at Bloomfield High School.

BLOOMFIELD — Bloomfield is in a holding pattern on its electric utility lawsuit, according to City Attorney Ryan Lane.

Lane briefly provided an update and answered audience questions about the lawsuit during the Jan. 27 City Council meeting.

The city has been trying to acquire an electric utility and, in 2015, it sued the City of Farmington alleging a breach of contract. Bloomfield maintained that Farmington was required under a 1960s court judgment and decree to sell the assets to Bloomfield to start an electric utility.

A district judge has upheld that position and Bloomfield is now awaiting data from the City of Farmington that will help it determine an appraised value of the system.

The City Council assured residents that they would be informed of the costs before the city entered into any purchase agreement and that the city will only go forward with the acquisition if it can keep rates the same or lower.

The discussion of the electric utility lawsuit stemmed from a visit from Jeff Heit, the managing director of Guzman Energy. Guzman Energy is assisting Bloomfield with the legal costs of continuing the litigation in hopes that the city will purchase the assets and contract with Guzman for electricity.

“As you know, litigation can be quite expensive,” Lane said. “Lawyers are not cheap.”

Guzman’s offer to Bloomfield is not unique. It has quickly set itself apart as a provider of affordable electricity that has helped small utilities and municipalities break away from their power provider.

The young company started six years ago and, in 2016, replaced Public Service Company of New Mexico as the contract power provider for the City of Aztec following a request for proposals process. Its contract with Aztec Electric Utility was its first foray into New Mexico, quickly followed by a contract with Kit Carson Electric Cooperative, which formerly had an agreement with Tri-State Generation and Transmission.

Heit highlighted a few of the ongoing cases where Guzman is assisting cities or electric utilities break ties with current power providers.

He said Delta-Montrose Electric Association in southwest Colorado will contract with Guzman starting in May, ending its current relationship with Tri-State. Another example he highlighted was Socorro. Like Delta-Montrose, Socorro Electric Cooperative is a member of Tri-State.

Guzman has also been in talks with La Plata Electric Association in Durango, Colorado, and Heit was in the Four Corners region this week for a meeting in Durango. LPEA is currently a Tri-State member.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.

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