A final vote on proposed solar interconnect rate changes will be on the Dec. 17 meeting agenda of the Pedernales Electric Cooperative Board of Directors. At its Nov. 19 meeting, the board asked for member input on newly proposed rate changes based on a recently completed value of solar study.
Most of the members who spoke on the issue during the public comment section said PEC discriminates against solar users, even with the new changes.
Member Kathi Thomas called the study “flawed.”
“I ask you to commission another study, this one with member input,” she said. “A solar study should look at the full value of solar, not just hard dollars. A study should include a full range of benefits, including benefits to the environment.”
When agenda item 13, which dealt with the value of solar study, came up for discussion, PEC Chief Financial Officer Randy Krueger addressed that concern.
“We have to set rates based on the actual cash cost,” Krueger said. “Otherwise, we are picking winners and losers among members.”
The main concern from members with solar systems on their homes is that when they receive energy from PEC, they pay 9.37 cents per kilowatt-hour, but when PEC credits them back for extra energy generated, the rate is only 5.377 cents per kilowatt-hour.
“The new proposal feels like a Robin Hood scheme,” member Jeff Stubbs said at the meeting. “You sell electricity to me for 9 cents, then pay me 5 cents (for what I generate) and sell it back to me for 9 cents. We are like our own individual co-op: We have our own infrastructure, we produce our own electricity. We should have one-for-one credit.”
Krueger pointed out that only about 5,000 of the cooperative’s more than 300,000 members use solar.
“We ask that our solar members understand our position,” he said. “We’ve got to look out for all the members of the cooperative.”
In a presentation on amending tariff and business rules for the interconnect rate, Vice President of Markets David Thompson said the new solar interconnect rate changes use a simple, easy-to-understand single buy-back rate. It reduces most of the subsidy so that as solar usage increases, an untenable burden is not placed on non-solar members. Compared to other utility buy-back rates, the PEC rate is fair and sustainable, he said.
If approved, the new sustainable power credit and interconnect rate will go into effect March 1, 2022. The sustainable power credit replaces the net energy credit line item on a member’s bill, while the interconnect rate replaces the interconnect net metering rate.
PEC also said it would update the value of solar study every three years along with its cost of service study. The next update will be in 2023.