POWER PLAN HUB

Texas cooperative sees rate redesign aiding compliance

John Hewa, chief executive officer of Pedernales Electric Cooperative, believes that implementing time-of-use rates for his members could help compliance with U.S. EPA's Clean Power Plan.

Over time, as customers respond to redesigned rates and shift the times they use power, co-ops will see lower peak power needs and reduce their emissions.

Pedernales is the largest distribution co-op in the nation, serving 280,000 meters over a sprawling territory in the Texas Hill Country that is the size of Connecticut.

"We need to offer very granular rates that align back to the realities of the power market, align with the realities of the time value of electricity, and we need to offer those rates to our membership so that they can make a very secure or predictable decision on investing their dollars in [distributed generation] technologies," he said in an interview last week.

"It's the right thing to do regardless of any regulatory framework" for utilities to offer "a rate that maps back to the realities of transmission cost and the realities of wholesale power supply, production and delivery," he said.

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Giving his members "the best price signals they can get" helps the co-op optimize its assets, he said.

And that is why on Oct. 1 the co-op will launch its time-of-use rates scheme featuring five tiers.

"We are very hopeful that our members will take that signal and invest in technologies that will allow them to work within the peak and the supereconomy [tier], giving them the ability to invest in energy storage, demand response and any number of technologies," Hewa said.

Events this week

Tomorrow, the Electric Power Research Institute begins a two-day conference in Washington, D.C., on environmental vision. EPA air chief Janet McCabe will speak that morning. The rest of the day will feature three panels on the Clean Power Plan.

The first will focus on state-level perspectives and feature electric executives from Oglethorpe Power Corp., DTE Energy Co. and American Electric Power Co. Inc. The second will look at emissions leakage effects on state-level electric rates. The third will discuss carbon trading as a compliance tool.

Southeastern state officials will gather in Charlotte, N.C., on Wednesday to continue a workshop series on the changing power sector hosted by Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions.

Jonas Monast, director of the group's climate and energy program, said the workshops began before the Clean Power Plan was finalized and explore the transition toward cleaner power sources, the impact of various environmental regulations, and concerns about nuclear power plant relicensing and future electricity demand.

"Our workshops are designed to help [states] have good objective information for the questions they're grappling with," Monast said. "Some of the states have clearly indicated they're not working on Clean Power Plan plans. Until we know how the litigation is resolved, our workshops will be framed around the needs of the states."

Monast added, "There's many other factors that are creating challenges in the electricity sector. Until we know where the court case comes down, we're focusing more on a broader suite" of issues.

Nicholas Institute meetings generally operate under "Chatham House" rules, meaning attendees cannot attribute any information shared to other attendees. Monast did not provide an agenda for the meeting or disclose which states will participate.

The Nicholas Institute also has been working on power-sector modeling related to the Clean Power Plan, since before the Supreme Court halted implementation of the rule.

Monast said the group would release that modeling — which wraps up other trends in the electricity sector — in the coming weeks.

In case you missed it

  • Michael Dowd of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality is the state's "point guy" on the Clean Power Plan. Read the first in the occasional series "On the Front Lines: Key actors in the battle over the Clean Power Plan" (ClimateWire, May 6).
  • EPA air chief Janet McCabe says the agency will move forward this summer with model rules for carbon trading (ClimateWire, May 6).
  • The Center for the New Energy Economy at Colorado State University released a modeling tool for 12 Western states considering how they might meet power-sector carbon reduction goals under the Clean Power Plan (ClimateWire, May 5).
  • The Clean Power Plan, which many consider the most far-reaching climate regulation ever set forth by the U.S. government, has barely registered in the minds of most American voters; a new national poll found 7 in 10 voters have heard "just a little or nothing at all" about EPA's regulation (ClimateWire, May 5).
  • West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman are rival generals in the legal war over the Obama administration's signature climate change rule (Greenwire, May 4).
  • John Giordano, assistant commissioner for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, told an environment advisory board gathered to discuss a federal climate change regulation that the state has no plans to comply with the Clean Power Plan (ClimateWire, May 2).

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