Thursday, December 3, 2015

El Pasoans Oppose EPEC Rate Hike Proposal

When do solar users, Western Refinery, El Paso Association of Builders, environmentalists, a Roman Catholic priest, the City of El Paso and home owners come together? When El Paso Electric proposes ridiculous rate hikes and a new classification for solar users. That's when. 

You can read the El Paso Times story HERE.

El Paso Electric's CEO, Tom Shockley, who was compensated $1.99 Million in 2014, argued that rates for each class must be brought up to cost. Of course, that cost is based on outdated models and outdated methods of production. As Western Refinery pointed out, the cost of a kW is the cost of a kW. It is no different whether you or I buy it or a solar owner buys it or Western Refinery buys it. BTW, Western Refinery let it be known that they are now looking into ways to produce their own electricity. Why buy it from the private company that acts like a public utility and makes $90 Million or so per year and pays Shockley nearly $2 Million? One speaker referred to him as the "Sheriff of Nottingham" from the legend of Robin Hood.

Although EPEC ads and their flim-flam yesterday at City Council continues to purport that everyone is subsidizing solar, it is the other way around. Solar users add to the grid. I'll say that again. Solar users add to the grid. The number of solar users is growing and the job market (primary and so on) is growing with it as evidenced yesterday by nearly a half of Council chambers being taken by Solar City employees. 

Ray Adauto, the President of the El Paso Association of Builders, cited a report on national trends showing that, by 2018, one-half of home builders will be using solar voltaics and ground source heating. The trend is toward being more green with the expectation that, by 2020, 81% of American home builders will be green. In El Paso, Carefree Homes and Saratoga Homes have already begun installing solar panels on the homes that they build in El Paso.

In spite of all the opposition to El Paso Electric's rate hike proposals as demonstrated by 99% of those in attendance at yesterday's City Council meeting, EPEC may still have everyone on the ropes. Agreement with City Council is unlikely to be reached so the utility will litigate at the Public Utility Commission of Texas. A November 20, 2015 Jefferies stock report predicts:

"Since the 2012 Show Cause order City Council has four new members (out of eight), a new mayor and a new city manager. While some investors may recall the 2012 Show Cause proceeding, which coincided with Occupy El Paso, it seems from recent press reports that the current City Council may struggle to approve any rate request. Local press reports have emotions running high at the Council over municipal identification cards and a 25% raise to the new city manager. Also Representative Cortney Niland, who in 2012 spearheaded the Show Cause proceeding, narrowly won reelection in May 2015 which we believe will lessen her ability to steer any discussion on utility matters at the Council. Jefferies believes that the politics in El Paso may add to the uncertainty with the rate filing and believe the company will take the long road to Austin for a litigated decision."

The issue is whether smaller intervenors such as Eco El Paso can continue to afford an attorney. Check out and, if you can, please donate.

The peak of rhetoric came from Representative Peter Svarzbein in what must go down in the annals of El Paso history as the "Is It Fair" speech. To hear it, go to the city's video page > Special Council Meetings > 12/02/15. Advance to 1:08:07.

Mayor Leeser answered his rhetorical questions thus: "No it isn't," the Mayor said, "and that is why the City is intervening.


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