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Residents could see bigger electric bills with new rate proposal

The El Paso Electric Company

El Paso Electric is proposing a rate change that could increase residential bills by about $9 a month.

EPE says part of the reason for the rate hike proposal is in the completion of the final portion of the Montana Power Station.

The utility says it invested about $151.3 million in the final portion of the power station and that investment isn’t reflected in current rates.

“We spend a lot of time planning how to best meet the demands created by the continued growth of our region, and these latest investments will benefit our customers well into the future,” said Mary Kipp, El Paso Electric CEO.

Under the proposed rate, residential customers could see their bills go up by about $7.24 per month in the winter and $9.27 in the summer.

If the proposal is approved, EPE would eliminate subsidies between all customer classes to better reflect the full cost of each type of customer’s service.

A cost of service study is used to determine the costs associated in serving each type of customer class. In addition, EPE is proposing to create a new customer class for private rooftop solar customers in Texas.

“It is important to establish a fair rate structure that reflects the cost to serve each customer class. As technologies progress and our customers’ needs change, we must also evolve to provide programs and rate structures that allow us to provide safe and reliable service at a price that is fair to all our customers,” Kipp said.

Bills of private solar customers could go up about $14.09 a month.

“EPE is proposing to implement a new rate structure, including a monthly demand charge, to recover the cost of grid-related services that are currently incorporated in the kilowatt hour charge in a bill. EPE is proposing to recover these costs through other mechanisms like the demand charge and time-of-use charges,” the utility said in a news release.

The utility said bill impacts and percentage changes for solar customers do not reflect credits given under Net Energy Metering.

Small business customers could see a decrease in their bill by about 2.8 percent. EPE said those customers were typically subsidizing other groups and the cost of service study determined they should be billed at a lower rate.

City and county facilities, El Paso Electric said, would keep their current rate, which is not open to new customers in that class.

The utility would work with each customer at the city and county level to determine if their costs would be better reflected within a different rate class.

If approved, the rates could change by late 2017 or early 2018.

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