UPDATE 1-El Paso says told to refund $5.7 mln franchise fees

* Says regulators order refund over a 3-yr period

* Regulators say fees not authorized under law

* Says appealed against order

Feb 1 (BestGrowthStock) – Utility company El Paso Electric Co
(EE.N: ) said regulatory authorities directed it to refund its
customers in the New Mexico counties franchise fees it charged
since June 1, 2004, and accrued interest.

El Paso estimates its refund obligation under the order
passed by the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission on Jan.
26 would be about $5.7 million, plus interest of about $1
million through Dec. 31, 2009, it said in a regulatory filing.

According to the order, the company may not pass through to
its customers all ongoing and some past franchise fees imposed
by New Mexico counties, as imposition of franchise fees by New
Mexico counties is not authorized under the state’s law.

The order requires the company to refund these fees over a
three-year period through a credit on customer bills and file
tariffs for refunding within three days.

The company said it filed an appeal with the New Mexico
Supreme Court to set aside the order.

On Jan. 29, the regulators granted El Paso’s request to
extend its deadline for compliance with the order until Feb.
12.

Shares of El Paso closed at $19.28 Monday on the New York
Stock Exchange.

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(Reporting by Arundhati Ramanathan in Bangalore; Editing by
Unnikrishnan Nair)

UPDATE 1-El Paso says told to refund $5.7 mln franchise fees