The public utility in El Paso, Texas recently cleared two important clean energy milestones: it declared itself 100% coal-free and promised to boost its solar investment, and decided against charging differential power rates for customers with rooftop solar systems.
With nearly 500,000 customers in Texas and New Mexico, El Paso Electric is now the only coal-free utility in either state. “The utility’s decision benefits both the environment and the economy,” writes John Hall, Texas state director at the U.S. Environmental Defense Fund. “Less coal means less harmful pollution, or avoiding ‘more than two billion pounds of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere every year, which is the equivalent to taking 190,000 cars off the road and planting 20 million trees,’ according to El Paso Electric.”
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Hall also lauds the power company’s unanimous decision to withdraw a proposal to increase its rate for residential solar customers. “Under the proposed structure, people with solar at home—who most likely decided to install panels based on expected savings—would have suddenly been hit with an unanticipated, additional monthly charge,” he writes.
“Fortunately, after listening to and engaging with numerous environmental and consumer advocates, as well as the area’s legislative leadership and the city’s mayor and city council, El Paso Electric agreed to a compromise and abandoned the proposed rate structure. The move will help empower El Pasoans to produce their own clean energy, without unnecessarily increasing electric bills.”
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