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World events dampened hopes of an early end to the winter storm recovery surcharge on Pedernales Electric Cooperative members’ bills, directors learned at their regular meeting Thursday, March 24. 

An uptick in savings reported last fall had staff and directors talking about possibly ending the 24-month addition to electric bills a bit sooner. New information, represented in the chart above, shows the savings leveling off. 

The blue line indicates the actual amount of recovery. At the end of last year, the blue line was well ahead of the projected recovery, indicated by the gray line. That trend reversed in January and February.

“That’s because of different performance patterns that were market driven,” PEC CFO Kruger explained. “There are a lot inflationary pressures.”

The good news is he doesn’t expect recovery to dip below expectations, which indicates the debt is on track to be paid off and the surcharge removed from members’ bills in March 2024. The surcharge adds $8-$12 on an average monthly bill. 

“We are still right on track,” Kruger said. 

SOLAR BUYBACK RATE

At the beginning of the meeting, two members with solar panels on their homes spoke about the negative impact of the co-op’s new buyback rate, which went into effect March 1. Solar members are receiving their first bills reflecting the change. 

The new buy-back rate costs PEC members with solar about 4 cents more per kilowatt-hour for the power they buy from PEC versus the excess power PEC buys back from them. PEC charges 9.347 cents per kilowatt-hour for the electricity it sells to solar users but buys back the excess at 5.377 cents — a 42.5 percent cut. 

PEC’s stand is that the old rate subsidized solar members at the expense of the rest of the membership, as all rates should equally reflect investment in the entire infrastructure needed to buy and distribute power systemwide. 

Member Bob Odorizzi of Blanco disputed that thinking. 

“I spent $15,000 of my own money, not PEC money, on solar on the basis of helping the environment and recouping our investment over time,” he told directors during public comment. “This new arrangement makes it difficult to achieve this. I take offense with the argument that solar is not paying their fair share. It doesn’t take into account my investment.” 

Odorizzi compared his February and March bills, which differed by only 6 kWh.

“My bill with this new rate structure went up by three times,” he said. “I don’t see what is fair about this. What if the other 98 percent of your non-solar customers’ bills went up by 25 and 50 percent. There would be outrage. We are only 2 percent of the members, so our outrage can be ignored.”

He pointed out that with world events causing an increase in fossil fuels and upping prices across the board, “you should encourage and incentivize use of solar energy instead of doing the opposite.” 

IN OTHER BUSINESS

Directors approved a series of draft resolutions that will be considered for a final vote at the next meeting on Thursday, April 14. The meeting was moved from its regular Friday to Thursday, as April 15 is Good Friday. 

Resolutions to be on the next agenda include: 

  • approval and certification of the 2022 election ballot
  • approval of the 2022 annual membership meeting agenda
  • approval of the 2022 Cooperative Response Center voting delegates
  • revision of the pole attachment rate structure

The rate structure revision will affect school districts in the PEC service area that have their internet service wires connected on PEC poles. Since 1997, school districts have not had to pay fees for that service. That waiver was lifted with a new law passed by the Texas Legislature in 2021 that said all pole attachment customers have to be treated equally. 

The board also approved resolutions on the budget policy and the capital improvement plan budget for engineering projects T415 and T319.

suzanne@thepicayune.com

1 thought on “PEC winter storm recovery drops along with hopes for quick end to surcharge

  1. Does anyone actually beleave PEC plans to do away with the fee??? They will just rename it and keep on charging.

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