Texas slaps El Paso solar customers with $30 minimum bill
No matter how many times El Paso Electric Company tries to get solar customers slotted into a separate rate class, the Public Utilities Commission of Texas (PUCT) turns them down, as they did yesterday when they approved a settlement between the solar industry and the utility.
But solar customers didn’t get off scot free this time around. While they escaped being segregated from other El Paso Electric customers and hit with special charges, the PUCT did approve a plan to let the utility impose a minimum bill of $30 on customers – the highest minimum bill seen by pv magazine staff to date anywhere in the nation.
The minimum bill provision was a compromise between the utility and Texas’ solar industry. In exchange, current solar customers received an exemption from its provisions for 20 years.
The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), which was a party to the settlement, admitted it was an imperfect decision and worried about the effect it might have on the future of solar growth in the state. The newly-established rate structure will complicate the decisions of future solar customers when they try to chose what rate works best for them.