El Paso Electric latest to try to punish solar users

By Ken and Christine Newtson, Southern New Mexico Group

On May 11, El Paso Electric (EPE), which serves Southern New Mexico and the El Paso area, filed with the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission for an increase in electric rates of 7.1 percent of non-fuel-based rates. These proposed rates will result in a 9 percent increase, on average, to Southern New Mexico total residential bills.

As EPE last filed for a non-fuel-based rate increase in New Mexico in 2009, an appropriate rate increase is reasonable.

Of concern is the creation of a special rate category for customers with solar energy systems and other distributed-generation systems.

Although the connection rate for solar customers is the same as the regular residential rate, the usage rate is slightly higher, by .125 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh).

So rather than reward customers for using renewable energy sources, their cost per kWh would be higher than regular customers. Of greater concern is that by corralling residential customers with solar systems into a separate rate class, the possibility of future increases that “punish” solar users is enabled.

Southern New Mexico residential customers should be benefiting from their investment in solar, renewable energy, and energy-efficiency initiatives. Instead, New Mexico ratepayers are being asked to subsidize El Paso and get punished for energy-conservation efforts that benefit us all.

Please contact your Public Regulation Commission representative and El Paso Electric to express your concerns. Send an email to riogrande.chapter@sierraclub.org to receive action alerts and updates on this issue. Las Cruces is one of the most progressive renewable energy cities in the Southwest. Let’s keep it that way.

Feature Photo by Michal Klajban.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

El Paso Electric latest to try to punish solar users