For a second time, Texas’ El Paso Electric is attempting to raise rates on its rooftop solar customers more than on all of its customers. The utility filed with the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) to raise rates for residential and small commercial rooftop solar customers an average of $14.09 per month under a new rate class.
The Residential Distributed Generation (DG) rate class would be in addition to El Paso Electric’s proposed rate increase for all customers and would help it recover $42.5 million in non-fuel based revenues within its service area, the company said. The utility’s attempt to raise rates for residential and small commercial rooftop solar customers is a reboot of a case in 2015 that El Paso Electric settled and lost.
El Paso Electric argued that the proposed rate increase will cover additional costs of integrating privately owned rooftop solar into its transmission grid, as well as recover investments it has made to expand its infrastructure. Its regular customers using an average 635 kilowatt hours of electricity a month will also see an average monthly rate increase of $8.25.
“I’m disappointed that El Paso Electric insists on discouraging people from installing solar on their homes. The electric company once again wants to single out solar customers by increasing their rates at least two times the amount of their non-solar neighbors,” said state Senator José Rodríguez (D). “Solar customers will no longer be able to save on their electric bills, which was the reason they installed solar panels in the first place. It's just unfair to now unilaterally change the rules for these customers.”
“The 2017 rate case is needed to recover the costs to complete the Montana Power Station (MPS) and other investments to meet our customers' growing needs. We've worked hard to modernize our aging local generation fleet and promote solar and other clean energy technologies our customers want, all while providing safe, reliable and affordable service," said Mary Kipp, El Paso Electric CEO. "We spend a lot of time planning how to best meet the demands created by the continued growth of our region and these latest investments will benefit our customers well into the future.”
Solar has grown successfully in parts of Texas like Austin and San Antonio thanks, to local rebates and incentives. Yet Texas received a D-grade from Solar Power Rocks’ 2017 State Solar Rankings because non-solar friendly policies hurt the Texas economy and hinder the state from reaping the benefits of clean energy options for its business and residents.Tweet