By Kelly Simmons, managing editor and senior writer

Mexico’s national electricity company, known as CFE (Comision Federal de Electricidad), will not renew its contract to purchase electricity from the beleaguered El Paso Electric company, it was announced in November. CFE’s contract with the El Paso Electric Company, which was for the supply of 200 megawatts to Cd. Juarez, terminates in December. After studying the different alternatives, the Salt River Project of Phoenix, Arizona was selected to supply an average of 200 megawatts per hour to Ciudad Juarez. The cost of the Salt River Project is $40 million dollar per year, less than CFE paid for energy used in 1995 to El Paso Electric. The new contract with the Salt River company was awarded for one year. In 1999 CFE’s new Samalayuca II power plant is expected to become operational, with enough electricity to supply all of Cd. Juarez’s needs.

The Juarez contract accounted for 8 percent of El Paso Electric’s total revenues in 1995. Another 7 percent of revenues derive from sales to neighboring Las Cruces, New Mexico which is currently fighting in court to acquire the company’s distribution system within the city limits as part of its effort to municipalize electric service. EPE has predicted that the Salt River project will be unable to demonstrate its capacity to supply the required amount of electricity, as a required step in finalizing the contract with CFE. EPE officials noted that the existing lines between Arizona and Cd. Juarez were already operating at capacity. Salt River had until November 22 in which to do so. FNS was not able to determine whether Salt River had been able to perform satisfactorily as this edition went on-line.

In other news, Mexico’s Tourism Secretary (Secretaria de Turismo, Sectur) in conjunction with Canirac has initiated a program to certify the quality of cleanliness and hygiene in restaurants and industrial food kitchens throughout Ciudad Juarez. The certification, signified with a distinctive H, will alert consumers to the higher standards of health and cleanliness found in those businesses displaying the certification.

Meanwhile, an El Paso Times survey indicated that the majority of residents in El Paso believe the North American Free Trade Agreement has had a negative impact, despite claims that it benefits the three countries involved. According to results from the survey, 55 percent of residents are unsatisfied with the effects of the Agreement that began to take effect in 1994. Only 28 percent of those surveyed felt it had been beneficial. The survey, conducted between the 14th and 19th of October included telephone interviews with 300 registered voters in El Paso County. The Texas Labor Commission confirmed that while El Paso has seen a net gain in employment since the beginning of NAFTA with the creation of jobs in the commercial and construction sectors, the City has lost a number of jobs in the garment industry.

Sources: El Norte, Diario de Juarez, El Paso Times

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