PEC to increase solar buy-back rates

Julie Parsley receives PEC service award

Julie Parsley (center with plaque) was recognized for her five years as chief executive officer of the Pedernales Electric Cooperative during the co-op’s regular board meeting Dec. 16. With her are directors Travis Cox (left), Milton Rister, Amy Akers, Libby Pataki, and James Oakley and board President Mark Ekrut. Director Paul Graf (not pictured) attended the December meeting by phone. Courtesy photo

Pedernales Electric Cooperative members with solar or any distributive energy could see an increase in the amount the co-op will pay them for their excess electricity. The Board of Directors heard a draft resolution at its regular meeting Friday, Dec. 16, that will raise buy-back rates to 6.060005 cents per kilowatt-hour from 5.3770 cents as of March 1, 2023 — an increase of 0.68305 cents.

Last fall, buy-back rates for individual solar generation were cut by about 4 cents per kWh, despite opposition from members with solar panels. Before the drop in December 2021, the price paid per kilowatt-hour was 9.347 cents. 

About 6,100 of PEC’s more than 300,000 members have distributed generation, or solar, installations, which is about 1.7 percent of the co-op’s total membership.

A final vote on the Sustainable Power Credit is scheduled for the board’s regular meeting at 9 a.m. Friday, Jan. 20, 2023. 

Energy policy and outreach specialist for Public Citizen, Kaiba White, was unimpressed with the increase. Public Citizen is a national advocacy group. White works for the Texas office. The group was vocal in its opposition to PEC’s initial cut in solar buy-back rates.

“It’s a small fraction of a penny,” she said. “It’s a very small change when you look at it in the context of retail rates, which also changed.”

The rate per kilowatt-hour is figured annually based on changes in energy costs, natural gas prices, and other market factors. Solar members argue that environmental benefits of using solar energy, which has a smaller carbon footprint than natural gas, oil, or coal, should be taken into account when figuring those rates. 

Those numbers don’t exist, said Chief Financial Officer Randy Kruger at the Dec. 17 meeting.

“There is no rate for carbon,” he said. “If legislation is passed to provide a rate for carbon, then we would include that.” 

White agreed that PEC followed its methodology in figuring the rate changes both last year and this year. 

“But it’s the same flawed methodology, so solar members are paying more for energy they receive than what they produce,” she said. “They are paid an unfair rate.” 

She suggested that PEC’s next cost of service study, which just got underway, should include a re-evaluation of the solar rate.


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