The following is a guest opinion by PEC member Richard Golladay, from remarks delivered before the board of directors on December 7, 2015
On November 8 the NY Times ran an article entitled “A Texas Utility Offers a Nighttime Special: Free Electricity”, referring to TXU Energy, the State’s largest retail electric power provider. The so-called “free” rate runs from 9 pm until 6:00 am. Other retailers, like Amigo Energy have followed suit.
(It’s not that TXU and Amigo are being altruistic. These rates, of course, would be compensated for by higher rates during daylight hours. These REPs are not necessarily your “amigos”.)
Regardless, the long term repercussions of TXU’s and Amigo’s news-breaking rate plans to PEC, are significant. Two drivers are: low demand at night, and fierce competition in a deregulated market.
I’m convinced that no investor-owned REP, such as TXU or Amigo, can consistently compete with a well managed electric CO-OP, such as PEC, and for that reason, would regard any attempt to open up our Co-op to “customer choice” by this Board as disingenuous.
Nevertheless, PEC needs to take note of this trend and offer a competitive alternative – and soon – for a least one very good reason: We’re beginning to see a paradigm shift in adoption of Electric Vehicles (EVs for short). (not Hybrids but fully electric vehicles – EVs.)
By one estimate, EV sales are increasing by about 69% per year – or doubling about every 15 months. This is exponential growth.
For a multi-car family, who wouldn’t want at least one vehicle that runs for next to nothing (about 2.5 cents per mile at full retail price of electricity, or zero cents per mile if you happen to live in Dallas and get free power at night). Charging timers on these cars easily allow late-night charging. But most EV owners also find themselves charging during the day – topping off between trips. Having a rate plan that facilitates EV ownership would therefore increase PEC’s net electricity sales.
PEC must position itself to compete with, or out-compete, any REP. We need to quickly fill in the missing component of the new rate plan – perhaps a special “late-night Time-Of-Use” rate on steroids. Having more EVs owned by PEC members will not only help LCRA’s load factor, but, as stated, will increase LCRA’s and PEC’s electricity sales overall. PEC and LCRA, as a team, need to get out ahead of the curve on this major new trend in EV adoption, and take serious note of the moves being made by REPs such as TXU. In other words, we need to give potential EV owners among our members an attractive option that presently only Retail Electric Providers are offering.