There’s One Born Every Minute

The El Paso Times reports today that the El Paso Electric Company is introducing a solar energy plan.

El Paso Electric officials this week began selling small chunks of solar power to customers as an alternative to rooftop solar systems.

The company’s new Community Solar Program begins at the same time company officials are trying to convince state regulators to increase electric rates for customers with rooftop solar systems sold or leased by a handful of solar-system providers.

The company’s proposal to charge higher electric rates to customers with rooftop solar systems “is an issue of subsidies and equity and not about access to solar energy,” El Paso Electric Chief Executive Officer Mary Kipp said in a written statement.

“We do not believe that customers who cannot put this (solar) technology on their roofs should pay more for their energy than those who can.”

You kind of have to admire Ms. Kipp for standing up in front of the world to peddle this shit. She sounds almost like a socialist when all she’s really trying to do is to line her stockholders’ pockets so she can retire with a fat bonus.

The crux of the biscuit, according to the financiers at EPEC, is the transmission and distribution lines that the rooftop solar customers use at night, or when it’s cloudy. By paying the same rates as everyone else for the electricity they get off the grid, rooftop solar customers aren’t subsidizing the wires.

But what, do you suppose, is the marginal cost of those wires? How much more does it cost the utility to send an extra kilowatt hour through the system?

If you answered diddly squat, you are correct. You also have a fine command of the colloquial vernacular we find so charming here at El Chuqueño, and you get to hang out with us more often.

The truth is that in other parts of Texas, the producers of electricity, and some motivated middlemen, share the transmission and distribution networks, and compete for customers by offering electricity at competitive rates.

El Pasoans, however, are spared the benefits of competition by virtue of the monopolistic stranglehold our good-natured neighbors who run EPEC enjoy. Lemme tell you, they don’t care about you or the good of the community. They are only interested in their own well-being. Their smiling orthodontia is only a ruse.

And so, now EPEC is asking for a rate increase. And not just for their solar customers. For every one of us.

El Paso Electric officials are again asking state regulators to approve higher rates for most of the utility’s West Texas customers after the power company substantially increased rates last year.

Utility officials Monday filed a new rate request with the Texas Public Utility Commission of Texas in Austin, asking for an overall $42.5 million increase in revenues, an overall 8.7 percent increase.

That’s similar to the rate increase approved in August, which allowed the utility to get $37 million more in rate revenues, and to also collect, through monthly surcharges to customers, $6.8 million in other costs, including rate case expenses.

Remember, those fat cats were cackling as they roasted our babies on a spit only last year, to paraphrase a story in the El Paso Times from February.

Rate increases in Texas and New Mexico boosted El Paso Electric’s profit 18.2 percent last year to $96.8 million — an increase of $14.9 million from 2015, the company reported Thursday.

The company had a profit of $5.7 million in the fourth quarter — an increase of almost 89 percent, or $5 million more than the same period last year.

“It was a very dynamic year,” El Paso Electric CEO Mary Kipp told Wall Street analysts during a conference call Thursday morning.

What? Profits almost doubled in the last quarter of last year, but the greedy pigs still aren’t satisfied?

Maybe declaring war on people who have installed rooftop solar panels is just a distraction. Something to take our attention away from the new rate increase. But probably they’re out to screw us all any way they can.


  1. If EPEC had done its job and upgraded all the time, we never would have had the Big Freeze blackouts. Saying that the equipment wasn’t prepped for cold that bad was bull dookey, engineers prep for the worst case scenario. This plot is along the same lines, punish people who want to get off the grid by making them pay more. One other thing to notice, EPEC says in their advertising, that solar grid customers won’t have their rates raised. How is THAT possible?

  2. Are you implying that installing a rooftop solar system, especially one large enough to actually power the entire house, is a cheap endeavor? Maybe you should get a calculator and your checkbook out and see what electricity will cost you either way, and do it WITHOUT the subsidies, because not everyone gets a subsidy. Then maybe you will see why everyone in the barrio doesn’t have rooftop solar, it is extremely expensive upfront and long term. Your entire proposition regarding solar power is based on the false premise that it is a cheap alternative to simply buying already-available electricity. If it is so cheap, do you have a solar rooftop system? If so, it must be a big roof, because solar panels are not very efficient and only output maximum for a very small part of the day, and output zero at night. It requires a lot of square footage, a tracking system to achieve anything resembling max output for more than an hour per day, etc., etc. Been there, done that, tired of people acting like it is a viable option for the masses. Only rich people have these systems because they can afford the upfront costs. Get you one, then write an article.

    1. I had to read my whole post to see why you thought I was implying that installing solar panels was cheap, and I didn’t find it. Can you point it out to me?

      I think it’s great that EPEC is employing flacks to pitch the idea that people who have solar panels are cheating the system while, at the same time, EPEC is asking to raise rates on everyone, rich and poor alike. If EPEC wants to help poor people, why don’t they drop their rate increase after nearly doubling their profits last quarter?

      Go back to your cubicle and come back with a more coherent response.

      1. My point is that solar panels ARE cheating the system. They are EXPENSIVE and don’t save anyone money. Forcing ratepayers to subsidize the whims of rich people who can afford solar panels is completely ridiculous, and politicians forcing utilities to subsidize rich people is (par for the course in El Paso, they gave an entire stadium to the two wealthiest families for their hobby) should be illegal. If you are FOR subsidizing solar power then you are implying that solar is worth subsidizing. It is not, and the entire basis of your article becomes moot, EPEC is being sued into submission by a bunch of Lexus driving solar panel owners. If you don’t see a problem with that then you are not for “the little guy”, you are for the corporations pushing solar who receive government subsidies and the rich people they push them on who can afford the remaining costs. Very few solar panels produced in the world end up emitting the amount of power required to manufacture and deliver them, much less a surplus. Solar power, at this point in time, is not an economically viable option for anyone who can purchase regularly produced electricity. Maybe if you have a mountaintop villa and cannot get the power company to run lines…

        1. Oh, I get you.

          Fuck those rich people. Fuck the ballpark. Fuck Trump.


          I’ve been accused of fomenting class war, because El Paso’s ruling elite don’t like being called out.

          How about fuck those EPEC shareholders who are getting rich off of unnecessary rate hikes? How about fuck our poor corporate neighbors, our friends and neighbors who smile in our face, and then sue to raise our electric rates by almost ten percent after they’ve enjoyed their highest profits since forever? (You tell me when. I haven’t got y’all’s resources.)

          I get it. Fuck the rich people. But, for me, mostly fuck the rich people who are trying to get richer off the poor people. And their shills.

        2. I suspect that whoever is hiding behind that pseudonym of “solar cost” must be another flack for EPE. He is misinformed about the current cost of solar conversion, and the subsequent savings available for people like you and me. What he fails to remember is a law that certainly did exist at one time, and may well still be on the books. When a customer, via whatever means, produces enough electricity to turn their meter backwards (and, yes, this can happen), then the electric company must adjust the bill accordingly. If a customer’s system happens to feed electricity into the grid, why should he be penalized?! As for subsidies not being available to everyone, all you have to do is remind yourself where we are. EPE enjoys a true monopoly here in far west Texas, and returns to the PUC again and again to protect that monopoly. The state of Texas is not consumer friendly, you know.

    2. Not what I was saying. EPEC is charging you for HAVING your own solar system. Then they’re trying to say if you invest in their solar farm, you’re only getting electricity from it when, in actuality, you’re just getting “generic” electricity. Solar panels are getting cheaper but I’d like to see they fare in our conditions with the high winds and dust.

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