Pedernales Electric Cooperative (PEC) Rate Changes
June 17, 2021
In December 2020, the Board of Directors at Pedernales Electric Cooperative (PEC) proposed and voted unanimously on a slate of regressive policies, one of which is a 20-25% rate increase for its members who choose to power their homes with solar energy. PEC is concerned with losing revenue due to an increasing number of members choosing to go solar and these changes unfairly target homes with solar power. There will be a final vote on July 16, 2021. If the vote goes through, the rate increases would take effect January 1, 2022.
We at Freedom Solar are opposed to this action not only because it affects existing customers but also because of the message it sends about solar power to the rest of Texas and across the United States. Dozens of studies have shown that customer-sited solar provides savings to the homeowner and to utility companies, like PEC, as well. If this were to pass, it may be more likely that other utility companies would follow suit and homeowners would be less likely to go solar, which has many environmental and financial benefits.
How Does This Affect Customers
These increased rates would not just be for new PEC members but would also apply retroactively to all PEC members who have already chosen to offset their power consumption with solar. Additionally, PEC’s new rate structure would discourage homeowners within its region from installing solar by instituting an upfront fee of $650 to be paid to PEC when applying to install a solar array. Even if the application for solar is denied, members would still pay $250 for PEC’s consideration.
PEC members with solar would now be forced onto time-of-use rates. This is a more complex rate structure that charges different rates at different times of day. PEC members would also be subject to two different demand charges – one based upon ERCOTs Four Coincident Peak periods and one based upon peak usage each month – both of which can be difficult for a member to control.
For more information take a look at the infographic we’ve prepared as well as the bill comparison below of a real Freedom Solar customer and PEC member whose March bill shows the bill total would increase by 28x.
As a member-owned coop, PEC should treat its residential members the same rather than imposing cost burdens on only one subset of members. Further, as the largest electrical cooperative in the United States with over 345,000 customers, PEC has a unique responsibility to its 5,000 solar customers and to the larger community it serves to encourage the adoption of more solar rather than unfairly penalizing its solar-powered members. Solar power reduces greenhouse gas emissions which contribute to climate change, saves both homeowners and utility companies to save money by generating low-cost power during peak consumption periods, and empowers homeowners and businesses to become more resilient and sustainable.
“Bottom line, if you’re a PEC customer and you already have solar, this proposed rate structure change will harshly penalize you,” Bret Biggart, Freedom Solar CEO, said. “The good news is the horse is not yet out of the barn; there is still time for PEC members to make their voices heard.”
What You Can Do
Pedernales Electric Cooperative members who have concerns about the proposed rate changes are encouraged to make your voices heard by contacting the Board of Directors via email to the individual board members (Milton Rister, District 1; Emily Pataki, District 2, Board President; Mark Ekrut, District 3; Travis Cox, District 4; James Oakley, District 5; Paul Graf, District 6; Amy Lea SJ Akers, District 7, Board Vice President) and by phone call to PEC at 888/554-4732. You can also sign up for the July 12th “Distributed Generation Rates Member Virtual Forum.”