Sierra Club Calls on Public Utility Commission: Don't Raise
Our Rates When
Cheap, Simple Solutions Abound
Austin, TX - The Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club submitted
comments this week to the Public Utility Commission (PUC),
telling the Commission to choose faster, easier, and more
The PUC has proposed to raise the
maximum wholesale energy price on the market from $3,000
to $4,500 per megawatt hour beginning next summer in order
to incentivize building new power plants in the state.
An independent analysis by ERCOT found that raising the
maximum energy bid to $4,500 could raise overall electricity
prices by some $5 to $15 per month on the average homeowner's
"Rather than raising energy prices on all Texans
this summer, the PUC should pass good rules to help reduce
electricity demand to better meet our needs," said Cyrus Reed, Conservation Director of the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club. "Now
is not the time to raise electricity prices on all Texans
to bait utilities into building giant new coal plants.
the PUC should implement proposed rules to raise energy efficiency
goals and expand programs at our utilities, adopt a pilot
project to reduce demand through demand response, and finally
approve rules that would allow third-parties to operate onsite
solar plants in Texas to help reduce summer peak demand."
Reed noted that the Commission has proposed a rule to implement legislation that requires certain utilities in Texas to meet 30% of the growth in their electrical demand through energy efficiency programs, and that could potentially reduce demand substantially at peak times.
However, the rule has very tough "cost caps" which certain utilities like El Paso Electric and Texas-New Mexico Power say are so low they cannot meet the goals required by the legislature.
"Let's give the utilities the flexibility they need
to meet their demand and energy savings goals for pennies
on the dollar rather than raise prices at certain times by
$1,500, raising everyone's electricity bills," said Reed. “Otherwise, this simply looks like a measure to promote building new power plants for the sake of building new power plants. That’s
not the right solution for Texas."