Your Vote is Your Voice in the PEC Board of Directors Election

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Your Vote is Your Voice in the PEC Board of Directors Election

The largest member-owned electrical co-op in the country, Pedernales Electric Cooperative (PEC), has revised their net metering policy, raising the cost of utility bills for their members with solar energy and disincentivizing homeowners from adopting solar. With demand for electricity continuing to grow and increased strain on the aging electrical grid, PEC should be prioritizing higher solar adoption for its members to get more generation online when demand is typically at its highest.

At the end of last year, the board members adopted a regressive solar policy, Sustainable Power Credit, where 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 decision based on the previous one-for-one policy, so this changes the rules of the game and has the net effect of increasing their bills.

Here’s what happened

  • December 2020 – The Board Members at PEC proposed and voted unanimously on a slate of regressive policies, one of which was a 20-25% rate increase and additional demand charges for its members who choose to power their homes with solar energy; and an upfront fee of $650 just to apply for a solar array.
  • July 2021 – The monthly board member meeting took place, several solar customers in PEC spoke against the rate increase and how it will unfairly target them financially. The Board paused this discussion to conduct an independent “Value of Solar Study.”
  • December 2021 – Board members voted to adopt the Sustainable Power Credit that negatively affects only their members with solar by cutting the Solar Interconnect Rate by almost half. This is the amount PEC reimburses you for excess production of power that filters back onto the grid.
  • NOWVote for new pro-solar board members in the election by June 10th!

Now that the new rates have gone into effect, let’s take a look at what it means for PEC’s members – and what can be done to ensure a brighter future for solar in the Texas Hill Country.

Why it matters to you

This change affects the members of PEC who have already gone solar or those that were planning to. Some solar benefits include energy cost savings, self-sufficiency and improved local air quality. This new policy not only impacts 6,000+ current PEC solar customers, but all 350,000 members who may consider going solar in the future. 

Dozens of studies have shown that individual solar customers increase savings to the homeowner and to utility companies, like PEC, instead of decreasing. Other utility companies may follow suit, and homeowners would be less likely to go solar, disregarding the many environmental and financial benefits of switching.

Where we stand

Freedom Solar has got your back. We will always work to protect our customers and to make solar an affordable, simple choice for as many people as possible – because our collective future depends on it. We also want to reassure PEC members who are considering solar that we will consult with you to determine if solar makes financial sense for you, and that we can offer solutions to make solar a more sustainable investment.

Even though the rates you’ll earn for solar are lower, you still benefit from generating clean electricity for your home’s use. 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 the Board of Directors members who support more solar adoption in PEC.

There’s an election happening right now for Districts 4 and 5, and in each district there is 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 18th through June 10th by 5 PM. We encourage you to vote early, online or in person! Find more details here.

Photo by Public Citizen

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