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County won't file lawsuit over Montana Vista Power Plant
By: Genevieve Curtis
EL PASO, Texas--El Paso County has decided not to spend taxpayer dollars to file a lawsuit against El Paso Electric over the Montana Vista Power Plant.
County leaders said the cost is just too high.
"I'm sure it doesn't satisfy the concerns of all the residents out there and understandably so," said County Commissioner Vince Perez.
Plus the county likely wouldn't be successful in any legal action because they don't have zoning authority. The lack of zoning authority is frustrating for county leaders.
"So the question was, are we going to spend tens of the thousands - potentially tens of thousands of dollars in taxpayer funds in litigation where we may ultimately not be successful." said Perez.
Construction crews are already working on building the new power plant, which has been a focal point of controversy for the community.
"Our concerns are real," said Rafael Carrasco one of the leaders of Far East El Paso Citizens United, a group of neighbors against the plant. \ EP Electric will move forward with two additional power sources.
Neighbors in Montana Vista have protested against the plant for more than a year now.
The plant is part of El Paso Electric's plan to help provide power for more homes in the rapidly expanding city but many in Montana Vista don't want it in their back yard.
"I think this is really a step forward to talk about our future energy needs and I think at the end of the day it's open dialogue before or after this process," said Eddie Gutierrez, the spokesperson for the electric company.
Carrasco said theyre disappointed the county wasn't able to intervene -- but their fight is far from over.
"We are grateful (for) the fact that they attempted to join us in our cause. We know that the county has faced some limitations since day one, I know they have been limited in their zoning authority," said Carrasco.
When the plant is complete, El Paso Electric said the power station will generate enough power to provide electricity to around 160,000 homes.
While the county won't be getting involved in the courtroom, commissioners said they're keeping their commitment to the community.
"We will continue to be in communication with the residents, in communication with the electric company," said Commissioner Carlos Leon.
Neighbors said they don't plan to give up on their cause.
"We press on with the same fight," said Carrasco. "We don't have what it takes to just pack up and move from one month to the next. So we will at least be there for the next 10 to 15 years," he said.