The Public Utility Commission’s rate case hearing process is actually rather fascinating. The first step is when a utility company files for a rate hearing. That information is made public, and then any interested party may petition the PUC to be an intervenor or a protester. Intervenors are generally businesses, activists, and government entities; while protesters are mostly just regular people who want their voice heard. From the PUC website:
“Intervenors are full participants in the proceeding and make legal arguments, conduct discovery, file testimony, cross-examine witnesses, and are themselves, if they testify, subject to cross-examination by the other parties in the case.”
“Protestors are not parties to the case and may not conduct discovery, cross-examine witnesses or present a direct case. Protestors may, however, make a written or verbal statement for the record in support of or in opposition to, the application and give information to the PUC staff that they believe may be helpful.”
Every letter, discovery, RFI, or other document filed is posted on the PUC website. All the filings for the El Paso Electric rate case 44941 can be found and viewed here.
As of today (12/26/2015) there are just 15 protest letters filed with the PUC in rate case 44941. One is from The Sierra Club, one is from State Senator Jose Rodriguez, and the rest are from citizens and ratepayers just like you and me.
To put these 15 letters into perspective, as of today El Paso Electric has filed 223 documents and in every single one they are putting their spin, showing their point of view, to the commissioners and members of the PUC.
And that’s why it is so important that people like you and me allow our point of view to be filed with and heard by the Texas PUC. Here’s the 15 documents filed by protesters so far:
Document 87 – Letter from a solar owner mentioning economics, ecological benefits, and lower water use by solar.
Document 96 – The Sierra Club’s letter.
Document 100 – A letter from a non-solar owner (I think) mentioning EPEC’s high rates, lack of competition, and failure to complete the Ft. Bliss solar plant.
Document 125 – A non-solar owner pointing out EPEC’s lack of planning, this letter does not mention solar at all.
Document 137 – A letter pointing out that solar customers don’t cost the utility more and mentioning the water savings.
Document 142 – A solar owner describing EPEC’s lack of communication on the proposed new rate class and questioning the proposed demand charge.
Document 146 – A solar panel owner sharing the economic distress they will feel if the commission allows the solar penalty to be integrated into future rates.
Document 168 – A solar owner pointing out the hypocrisy of EPEC encouraging solar a few years back and now proposing to punish solar.
Document 178 – A solar owner highlighting and dissecting the proposed fees for solar users.
Document 228 – A letter from an El Paso solar owner showing the flawed logic in EPEC’s statement that solar customers do not pay their fair share to maintain the grid.
Document 274 – A letter from a solar owner protesting the proposed EPEC solar penalties.
Document 298 – A letter from a solar owner pointing out that the New Mexico Public Utility Commission has already disallowed EPEC’s request for a partial requirements rate class in New Mexico and requesting that Texas PUC follow their lead. (El Paso Electric serves two states, so they filed two very similar rate cases with the two different PUCs.)
Document 303 – State Senator Jose Rodriguez’s letter to the El Paso Mayor and City Council, and cc’d for the record with the PUC.
Document 319 – A letter from a student whose parents invested in solar in 2010 because of encouragement from the city of El Paso. She makes some good arguments about EPEC needing competition and she absolutely nails it with this Q&A:
“What could possibly be wrong with putting less pollutants into the air and supporting solar development??? Oh yes, it could diminish El Paso Electric’s profit.”
Document 420 – A letter from the owner of a solar business that shows the economic benefits of solar and points out how many jobs solar has created.
Document 421 – A letter from a solar owner breaking down his usage and billing history to detail exactly how the proposed new rate class will be much more damaging to solar users than what EPEC is claiming in their rate case filing.
From this point on we won’t link to every protest filing, but we will try to highlight and post the best ones. Please send a letter to the PUC today.