Solar Energy Debate Over Texas Goes National

The El Paso Electric Co, also known as EPE is central to a national debate that is being played out across the nation. Across the Power Industry, all over America; similar conversations are happening as companies look to recoup their investments in solar in the quickest way possible.

Despite EPE having a positive hand in a number of successful community projects in the region, along with a new solar installation in Texas at an Air Force Base; they have lost a significant amount of popularity within their sector. They are also the subject of an investigation that is being carried out by the Public Utility Commission of Texas.

Potential Increase in Consumer Bills for Solar

Essentially, what EPE would have already like to have implemented is a scheme whereby they implement standing charges and increased charges to various customers ranging from commercial to residential.

The system they wish to implement will mean that customers will pay for what they use and their monthly bill will vary greatly depending on their usage. It will allow EPE to track and measure the rooftop solar clients usage and the peak demand customers are placing on their facilities.

Additionally, their residential rooftop scheme and the subsequent changes they were trying to enforce on customers has so far been halted. It is still something that EPE wants to pursue, and they have a specific interest in the adoption of a new approach. It is also something that would impact a residential customer by creating a rate class with distributed generation.

The impact this would also have on those who have a private solar classified service, mostly small businesses would also be subject to a new pricing structure. There are also talks about the introduction of a monthly standing charge along with timers that monitor your usage and the time of that use, in order to ascertain your bill.
As a final note regarding the impact of their proposed changes, it would also mean that any residentially distributed generation rate group would be subject to a hike of up to $15 per month on their bills.

The Other Side of the Debate

Staunch supporters of solar and solar tech companies along with local business people have said they do not feel that people should have to pay what appears to be a penalty for having solar installed on their premises.
There are also concerns that the proposed charges that would be imposed the Utility companies could actively discourage people from switching to renewable energy. It could also impact the financial benefits which are responsible for attracting many in Texas who can benefit from having solar installed in their premises.
One of the most significant benefits would be that the bigger number of customers in Texas who use solar power, the less stress there would be on the National Grid. Moreover, there is more, emission-free electricity available which is renowned for needing less water to operate than other sources.

It is cited in the source article mentioned at the end of this post that there is a general feeling that EPE is attempting to somehow control this source of energy for the benefit of themselves only with disregard for their customers. This statement was made by John Hall of the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). He is the current Associate Vice President of Clean Energy at the EDF.

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