El Paso Electric is finishing up its rate case with the Public Utility Commission of Texas. Under the agreement, customers with solar panels will NOT have to pay an $11 surcharge (although this will be addresses in the future, so this may change), but everyone else’s rates WILL be going up. If the agreement is approved, here is how it affects you:
- An increases of $8.12 a month in the summer and an average increase of $5.47 a month in the winter for residential customers using an average of 625 kilowatt-hours per month in Texas. This rate increase was already applied to your bill.
- Small commercial customers would see an average increase of 2.92% per month.
- Legal fees from the rate case and costs related to the Four Corners Generating Station also would add $2-$3 to residential customers’ bills for 24 months.
So, you’re going to see an additional $2 -$3 on your bill as soon as the compromise is approved. “The average bill will probably go up next month for around $2 or $3 for the next 24 months and it will be on your bill as a surcharge and it will be itemized to legal expenses on the equipment,” said Eddie Gutierrez, the spokesman for El Paso Electric. Also, you can expect to see your bill go up AGAIN next year: “We have the Montana Unit Three already online. Unit Four is about to come online and we expect then to file a rate case in both Texas and New Mexico at the beginning of next year,” Gutierrez said. You can expect the solar panel surcharge fight to resurface during that rate case.
But, not to worry, your politicians are fighting for you:
- Sen. José Rodríguez, D-El Paso, said, “I’m glad to see that El Paso Electric and the various interveners in this rate case have reached settlement terms that benefit all ratepayers, including customers with solar installed on their homes. Gone now are proposals for steep surcharges and segregated rate classes for solar customers. El Paso and far West Texas should lead the nation in solar energy development, and has in fact seen an enormous uptick in solar installations in the last year alone. We should encourage this growth, which is good for the electric system, helps create jobs, and provides consumer options. I trust the Commission will authorize the settlement terms without delay.”
- Veronica Escobar: “So there’s been a settlement that’s been worked on for quite some time,” County Judge Veronica Escobar said. “And I think you all are very well aware, I think this is very public, that the solar energy folks have – there’s been some points of contention between the utility and those advocates. During this period, there was a compromise that was reached.”
Feel better? If you’re considering installing solar panels, we found this article from EnergySage to be helpful.
The commission will review the settlement as early as Aug. 18, so you can expect your bill to go up soon.