- Oncor Electric, the largest utility in Texas, has proposed a $317 million rate hike, or about 7.5%, along with minimum charges for solar customers. If approved, it would bring the utility's total revenue requirement to approximately $4.5 billion.
- The rate hike comes at a sensitive time for Oncor: its parent company is mired in protracted bankruptcy negotiations, in part to find a new owner for the utility serving 3.3 million customers.
- The Dallas Morning News takes a closer took at the proposed solar fees, and projected it to be a minimum of $40.
Despite negotiations over a new owner for Oncor churning in the background, the utility moves on with business as usual. And that includes its first rate case in six years, necessary to pay for enhancements to the grid. According to the utility, a typical homeowner will see an increase of about $6.80 per month.
The average Oncor residential customer uses 1,300 kWh of electricity per month, and after the rate change, they would be charged $0.09526/kWh rather than $0.09kWh. Oncor estimated the increase will amount to an overall total bill adjustment of 5.85%.
Oncor CEO Bob Shapard said in a statement the utility's investments "have allowed customers to benefit from cleaner wind and solar power and enable a more durable, reliable, and customer responsive grid. Investment in the grid is also necessary to continue attracting new industries, businesses and jobs to Texas.”
The utility said it expects the new rates to go into effect later this year after a multi-month review. The potential solar fees are likely to cause a row with advocates, in line with similar policy battles taking place nationwide.
Last month, PUC staff recommended additional consumer protections be put in place before regulators sign off on a plan by NextEra Energy to purchase Oncor. According to staff, the company's significant merchant generation carries "much more risk than that of a T&D utility."
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved NextEra's plan to purchase Oncor in January for more than $18 billion. NextEra's own reputation with rooftop solar could shadow the hearing over the Texas utility's proposed rate hike. NextEra's Florida subsidiary was engaged in a controversial ballot amendment last year seeking to keep third-party ownership over rooftop solar arrays illegal, which advocates said would stifle growth.