Sustainable Energy Committee


The Eco El Paso Sustainable Energy Committee

Renewable energy resources – geothermal, wind, and solar – are an important part of the future of El Paso’s energy needs. However many of the old-guard fossil fuel industries and electrical generation utilities are scared of renewables because of their lower costs and the ability of a homeowner or business owner to create their own electricity.

So those industries and utilities often try to paint renewables as being unfair because homeowners without renewable energy are having to subsidize homes with renewable energy.

But in fact, utilities save money when homeowners go renewable because the utility companies don’t have to build as many power generating plants.

Eco El Paso has filed to be an intervener in the current rate case. Download our position paper.

Benefits of Renewables – Studies

Here is a collection of studies showing how renewables – primarily solar – are actually a benefit to the grid and save all ratepayers money by keeping rates low:

“El Paso Electric (EPE) – which is a for-profit company with a monopoly in the El Paso area – is seeking higher rates for the utility’s west Texas customers and launching another attack on solar customers.”

“At current national penetration levels, the report finds that distributed solar would bring no more than a .03 cent per kilowatt-hour ($0.0003/kWh) long-run increase in retail utility prices, but that the result could just as well be a decrease of the same magnitude.”  (In other words, if you use 2,000 kWh of electricity – about a $250-275 electric bill – your bill might need to go up by 6 cents because other homes have solar.)

“It’s water. It’s water. It’s water,” institute Executive Director Patrick Schaefer said, explaining one of the key reasons to develop renewables in El Paso.

“Until now, people have focused on how much was being saved by those who owned PV,” says Kaufmann. “What this analysis quantified was that it actually generates savings for everybody.”

“Does net metering really represent a net cost shift from solar-owning households to others? Or does it in fact contribute net benefits to the grid, utilities, and other ratepayer groups when all costs and benefits are factored in? As to the answer, it’s getting clearer (even if it’s not unanimous). Net metering — contra the Nevada decision — frequently benefits all ratepayers when all costs and benefits are accounted for, which is a finding state public utility commissions, or PUCs, need to take seriously.”

“A new, clean resource that produces all of its output during the high-load daytime hours and is delivered to the system at the distribution grid level is fundamentally different – and in some ways superior to – a fossil-fired power plant located far from the customer base.”

“A review of 16 recent analyses shows that individuals and businesses that decide to “go solar” generally deliver greater benefits to the grid and society than they receive through net metering.”

“This [net metering] is especially so in light of a body of studies finding that solar customers may actually be subsidizing utilities and other customers.”

“By evaluating an array of configurations, this analysis determines that the value of solar to the grid – and ratepayers connected to the grid – ranges from 22-28 cents/kWh, with additional societal values of 6.7 cents/kWh.”

“Florida’s investor-owned electric utilities – Duke Energy, Florida Power & Light (FPL), Gulf Power and Tampa Electric – spent $20 million pushing Amendment 1 and branding it as “pro-solar,” when in fact it would have undermined customer-owned solar power in Florida. Amendment 1’s passage would have paved the way for the utilities to add fees to solar customers’ bills.”

“In October, Environment America Research & Policy Center showcased Shining Rewards, a new review of 16 value-of-solar studies from around the country. The report shows what we already know intuitively: Solar panels provide pollution-free energy that delivers far reaching benefits to people, the environment, the economy, and the electric grid.”

“The question is will we build incentives to reduce the real rising cost of electricity, which is the need to add  to generation and transmission to handle new peak loads? Embracing these technologies that reduce peak loads reduces costs for all electric customers.”