SAN BENITO, RGV – San Benito Chamber of Commerce has welcomed American Electric Power’s decision to open a service center in the city.

Lionel Betancourt, president of the SBCC, says he is looking forward to the additional exposure the city will receive from having a major company located within the city limits. Plus, the fact that 110 new jobs are to be created.

Judith Talavera

“To be able to have the central offices here, that’s just a real boost for us, it is just what the community needs, something like that to put significance where we are,” Betancourt told the Rio Grande Guardian.

In a press release, AEP Texas announced San Benito as the selected city for a new electric center to serve the eastern region of the Rio Grande Valley. The company said the new center will allow for the consolidation of five different work locations in the mid and lower Rio Grande Valley.

Judith Talavera, AEP Texas president and chief operating officer, said construction of the state-of-the-art, $10-million, facility should begin in March of 2017 with completion anticipated during the first quarter of 2018.

Talavera said construction of the facility is a positive step for the company, its employees and the region.

“We have needed a new service center for a long time in this area, and this is a great step forward to allow us to continue to provide reliable electric service to our customers,” Talavera said.

“We look forward to re-locating to San Benito and enhancing our relationship with that City; as well as, continuing our great long-standing relationship with the City of Harlingen, where our existing service center has been located for many years.”

Betancourt said the new center will help protect trucks from damage caused by the weather.

“Right now, all the trucks are outside in the open and we are going to try to put them under a roof and build a protected facility so they do not have trouble in the storm,” Betancourt said.
Additionally, Betancourt said the facility is predicted to be completely operational by 2018, and will be located off U.S. Highway 77 near the old Municipal Airport providing 110 employment opportunities for locals.

“It is major,” Betancourt said “One hundred ten jobs, that’s just the start and then who knows what happens after that. But we’re along way away from solar power to support our community.”

Tom Coad, AEP Texas vice president of distribution operations, said the new facility will not only be a “significant upgrade” for the company, but will also have a significant impact the eastern end of the Valley.

“In addition to having a site that provides multiple entry points to our service center property, the site meets all our construction requirements and offers 15 extra acres compared to our existing property,” Coad said. The existing property is in neighboring Harlingen.

“This will be extremely valuable for storm restoration purposes while offering the possibility of future expansion as the Valley grows,” Coad added.