El Paso businesses and residents, fed up with some of the highest electric rates in Texas, continue to mull the introduction of competition to the area's electric market as they see customers in parts of Texas with electric choice -- like Dallas and Houston -- paying much lower electric rates.

Back in November, SaveOnEnergy.com noted customers' frustration with the high rates at the area's monopoly electric utility, El Paso Electric.  Like some other parts of Texas not connected to the main Texas grid such as Southwestern Public Service and Entergy, El Paso Electric was not forced to open its system to electricity competition, like Oncor, CenterPoint, and AEP.

The result is yet another clear example that competition drives down electric rates, as customers at El Paso Electric are paying some of the highest electric rates in Texas, and customers and city leaders have had enough.  For example, a residential customer using 1,000 kWh at El Paso Electric in December paid a rate of 11.2 cents per kWh, while customers in Dallas, who can shop for their electric supply, could get a fixed rate as low as 8 cents per kWh, with variable rates even lower.

According to El Paso Inc., City Rep. Cortney Niland and other council members, "contend that high electric rates and the lack of competition have contributed to El Paso's economic problems."

"The tone they're setting by saying, 'We have the highest rates and we're taking them higher,' shows they have no interest in the community" Niland said.

Niland noted that due to El Paso Electric's high electric rates, the city, "cannot compete for businesses," with places such as Houston and Laredo -- both areas where customers can choose their electric provider.