Your Vote Is Your Voice in the PEC Board of Directors Election
May 18, 2022
Pedernales Electric Cooperative (PEC), the largest member-owned electrical co-op in the country, has revised its net-metering policy. This raises the cost of utility bills for its members with solar energy and discourages homeowners from adopting solar. With demand for electricity continuing to grow and the aging electrical grid undergoing increased strain, PEC should prioritize higher solar adoption for its members to get more generation online when demand is typically at its highest.
At the end of last year, board members adopted a regressive solar policy, the Sustainable Power Credit. Under this, the buy-back program for individual solar energy generators is 4 cents less per kWh than what the PEC charges customers for electricity. Homeowners who already own solar made their investment based on the previous one-for-one policy. Subsequently, this changes the rules of the game and has the net effect of increasing their bills.
Here’s what happened
- December 2020: PEC board members proposed and voted unanimously on a slate of regressive policies. One of these was a 20-25% rate increase and additional demand charges for its members who power their homes with solar. Another was an up-front fee of $650 just to apply for a solar array.
- July 2021: The monthly board member meeting took place. Several PEC solar customers spoke against the rate increase and noted how it will unfairly target them financially. The board paused the discussion to conduct an independent “Value of Solar Study.”
- December 2021: Board members voted to adopt the Sustainable Power Credit. This negatively affects only members with solar by cutting the Solar Interconnect Rate by almost half. This is the amount PEC reimburses members for excess power production that filters back to the grid.
- NOW: Vote for new pro-solar board members in the election by June 10!
Now that the new rates have gone into effect, let’s look at what that means for PEC members. And let’s see what we can do to ensure a brighter future for solar in Texas Hill Country.
Why it matters to you
This change affects PEC members who already have solar and those who plan to. Some solar benefits include energy cost savings, self-sufficiency and improved local air quality. This new policy doesn’t just affect 6,000-plus current PEC solar customers. It also affects all 350,000 members who may consider going solar later.
Dozens of studies show that individual solar customers increase, not decrease, savings to homeowners and to utility companies like PEC. Other utility companies may follow suit. As a result, homeowners would be less likely to go solar. Furthermore, they may disregard the many environmental and financial benefits of switching.
Where we stand
Freedom Solar has got your back. We’ll always work to protect our customers and to make solar an affordable, simple choice for as many people as possible. Our collective future depends on it.
We also want to reassure PEC members considering solar that we’ll consult with you to determine whether solar makes financial sense for you. Moreover, we can offer solutions to make solar a more sustainable investment.
Although the rates you’ll earn for solar are lower, you’ll still benefit from generating clean electricity for your home. Those benefits can be measured in dollars and cents as well as in air quality.
Get out and vote, y’all!
As a PEC member, you — more than anyone else — have the power to change the PEC policy to encourage more solar in the co-op, not less. How? By electing board of directors members who support more solar adoption in PEC.
An election is happening right now for Districts 4 and 5. In each district, there’s a candidate running who supports solar.
Kathi Thomas, District 4: “PEC needs to look to the future, and renewables and distributed energy services are a big part of the future. Distributed energy services that can affordably improve grid reliability include solar and batteries located at homes and businesses, energy efficiency upgrades for buildings, and demand response programs.”
Rachelle Sutherland, District 5: “One of the key pillars of energy sustainability is energy diversification, which means utilizing a variety of resources to generate energy. Presently, fossil fuels are the primary energy source for the PEC. Oil and gas are abundant in Texas, and this has had the effect of making our country and state very prosperous. Yet fossil fuels aren’t sustainable because they are finite. Renewable energy sources such as solar and wind need to be incorporated into the grid as well as new technologies that support grid resilience.”
Voting will take place from May 18 through June 10 by 5 p.m.
We encourage you to vote early, online or in person! Find more details here.
Photo by Public Citizen