- El Paso's City Council has unanimously rejected Texas-based El Paso Electric's (EPE) proposal to increase rates, monthly charges and create a new solar customer class, KFOX 14 reports.
- The El Paso City Council was one of several local councils to reject EPE's proposed changes. Opposition to the proposals was led by solar advocates.
- The Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) will have the final say on the average 10.98% bill increase across EPE rate classes. The proposed revenue increase of $71.5 million would raise the average monthly residential bill $8.41, from $71 to $79.41, according to EPE Spokesperson George De La Torre.
- While residential customers’ monthly charge would increase from $5 to $10, the new solar customer class’s monthly charge would go from $5 to $15. Solar customers would also have a demand charge but would have a decreased volumetric rate, resulting in an overall average monthly bill increase of $12.
This isn't the first time EPE has had its proposals to add or increase charges on residential customers with distributed generation rejected. Just last month, New Mexico regulators rejected a proposal from EPE to place a monthly charge on residential solar users. The proposal is part of a trend in the sector of utilities proposing to add or increase fixed charges, especially for solar owners.
For this proposal, the total rate change package would cover the utility’s $1.3 billion infrastructure investment since 2009. The 10.98% class-wide impact includes a 16.10% per kWh rate increase that is mitigated by an unchanged fuel charge tariff, De La Torre said.
The proposed demand charge for solar customers would be $3.89 per kW per month and assumes an average system size of 3.5 kW to 5 kW, De La Torre said. Solar advocates opposed the changes because they would take solar owners’ current average $45 per month bill to $57 per month and because of the amounts and the changes in the rate design.
The proposed volumetric rate decrease for solar customers varies. Currently, it is $0.08745 per kWh in the summer and $0.07745 per kWh in the winter. It would go to $0.05842 per kWh for solar owning customers’ first 500 kWh in the summer, to $0.06342 for all other summer kWh, and to $0.04842 for winter kWh, according to EPE.
A hearing on EPE's proposal will be held in Austin on Jan. 26.