Tuesday, August 18, 2015

El Paso Electric Hates It When You Generate Your Own Electricity

The El Paso Electric Company hates it when you generate your own electricity. Their current rate hike requests penalize users of solar energy. Read Robert Gray's El Paso Inc. story, Solar customers worry about rate case: Electric utility proposes big jump for power generatorsSee the rate hike chart above.

EPEC argues that people who use solar power are subsidizing those users who do not. EPEC has to build and maintain power stations, electric poles, etc. and that costs money especially as more homes and commercial buildings get built, more sprawl is created and more homes and other buildings use central air. Obviously if you aren't using solar, you are paying more for the power grid than someone who is paying less. The same argument can be made about people who turn off lights when not needed, turn up the thermostat in the summer, turn-off computers and so forth. EPEC isn't really encouraging conservation.

Imagine a scenario where everyone generates electricity during the day with their solar panels. At night that electricity goes back to the grid - in effect, thousands of electric generators. There would be little need to build more power stations and there would probably be a shut down of some stations or else less use of those stations. Less water for steam and cooling. Less use of fossil fuels. What's the matter with that?

Simple. Less electricity produced by EPEC means less that they sell to you and me and, therefore, less money that they will make. Sure they want you to conserve up to a point. They don't want to spend too much on power peaks. However, they don't want you to conserve too much nor produce your own electricity. In case of the latter, they want to punish you rather than incentivize the renewable energy that you make.

What should happen is that the city of El Paso (or any city) should take over the electric utility. Encourage renewables by charging people with solar panels less. Discourage over use. Cut back on infrastructure such as power stations. The city doesn't have to make money on the commodity of electricity. They can encourage home production of power with renewable sources.

EPEC's power grab (pun intended) is going on with utilities around the country. Led by folks such as the Koch Brothers, the industry is fighting what they call "freeloaders" - people who use solar and sell back to the grid. Of course, freeloader has the additional meaning of someone who mooches and steals - how the utilities want you to think about people with solar energy. If there are more people using solar without paying a higher rate and getting less back for the electricity that goes back to the grid, there is less power to sell and less fossil fuels to be purchased from folks like the Koch boys.

What EPEC and the electric industry knows and fears is this: they are going the way of the telephone or the television cable companies. They are going the way of the horse and buggy. They are going the way of the dinosaur. Cell phone technology replaced the need for a grid of millions of miles of wires. More people are streaming rather than buying dozens of television channels that they never watch. More people will either get off the grid or go to micro-grids. (Watch out when battery technology improves and gets cheaper.)

Finally, as far as laws that prevent people from getting off the grid are concerned, the day will come when enough people will not care a rat's ass. It is or once was a free country not ruled by an oligarchy of powerful fossil fuel companies and their corps of crony capitalists.

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  1. On this logic, EP Electric should charge people who go away on trips more because they don't use power while they are gone..go on two trips, your rate will be doubled! Etc.

  2. I make tacos.
    You buy my tacos for $5 each.
    You no like my tacos?
    Then you pay me $8.
    Someone has to pay for my tacos.

  3. Very Creative example of less costing more !

    The issue on integration of renewable energy and other forms of on site generation into the electric grid and what the costs and benefits are for all involved ins Complex. This issue is being debted nation wide an we must hope that balanced and equitable decisions and policies are the result. We need to encourage clean alternative energy forms for many reasons and they can should be looked at as a positive asset and not a negative. Time for a new business model for electric utility company's going forward. Holding on to the past has no good future for any of us.

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