STAND UP FOR SOLAR
PNM Wants to Charge You for the Energy You Produce With the Proposed PNM Rate Increase
The Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM) electric utility is trying to push through a regulation that would increase electric rates (rate increase) and tax New Mexicans who are producing their own renewable energy through solar panels. The proposal goes something like this: PNM says their operation costs have INCREASED while customer use of their electricity has DECREASED and they want those with solar grid-tied systems to pay a larger share of the cost to operate the grid. According to PNM’s announcement:
“The balance of the request is related to declining energy sales driven by the still recovering New Mexico economy, improved electric appliance efficiency and PNM’s own energy efficiency and customer rooftop solar programs.”
PNM is stating that solar rooftop programs are effectively working to reduce our dependency on other forms of energy, and because of this, they are no longer making the same profits and need to recover their costs. Furthermore, a ‘recovering New Mexico economy’ needs to pay more for the energy they use (or are using less of).
What You Need to Know:
- The PNM rate increase request was part of an overall rate increase that would be effective January 1, 2016 and, if approved, would total $107.4 million, a 7.7% increase on the average PNM customer bill.
- In addition, a new “solar distributed generation interconnection fee” would bill rooftop solar customers that installed after Jan. 1, 2016, a fee of $6 per kW (kilowatt) system capability (not actual usage). For example, the average 5 kW system would be billed an additional $30 every month [$6 per kW x 5kW=$30]. This is on top of the 7.7% rate increase to all PNM customers.
- If you install a solar electrical system before January 1, 2016, you will be considered “grandfathered” and will not be subject to this solar tax.
The PNM Rate Increase Does Not Properly Represent the Benefits of Distributed Power Generation & Net Metering:
Pat Vincent-Collawn, PNM Resources’ chairman, president, and CEO claims:
“Changes are needed to bring the rate structure more in line with how people use energy today, ensuring the ability to cover the costs of operating the electric system, and to more fairly allocate those costs among customers.”
Owners of grid-tied solar electrical systems are a benefit to the electrical grid and PNM’s renewable energy portfolio. When you install a solar electrical system at your home or business you generate your own electricity to use. But what if your system generates more electricity than you use? Approximately 20-40% of the average household’s total solar production is returned to the electric grid (commonly called “excess generation”) in which you are “paid” by PNM for that excess generation, known as net metering. In most cases, PNM buys this energy from the homeowner at a reduced rate (currently 3-cents) then sells it to the neighbor next door at the consumer rate (about 9-cents) and profits from the difference without having to do much of anything; That’s a pretty fair deal for PNM.
How Can You Get Involved?
- Get Informed: Read the Proposal for Yourself.
- Follow Osceola Energy on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ and join the discussion.
- Spread the Word: Everyone is effected by these proposed changes. Even if you don’t own a solar electric system of your own, the changes would effect how and where your energy comes from.
- Get Involved: Send your elected PRC member a message and tell them to vote NO on PNM’s new rate and fine plan. Or sign the petition.
The Environment America Research & Policy Center report, Shining Rewards: The Value of Rooftop Solar Power for Consumers and Society was just released and outlines the benefits that distributed rooftop solar power systems ad to the grid. Read the full report.