Pedernales Electric Cooperative, one of the largest and fastest-growing electric cooperatives in the nation, finally officially adopted policies on renewable energy and energy efficiency. Today, the Board of Directors, following a multi-year discussion, approved two resolutions involving the future of their energy choices, making their transition toward a cleaner energy future a little brighter.
First, the Board adopted a policy stating as their annual goal that the electric cooperative provide services, education and dollars toward energy efficiency, conservation and demand reduction programs designed to reduce growth in demand by 20% each year. While a report released last year by a consultant estimated that setting such a goal would require that PEC spend roughly $4 to $5 million per year on incentives and rebates, Board members and PEC staff emphasized that they would assess the programs each year and look for those that most cost-effecitvely meet and exceed these very reasonable goals. While the goals adopted fell short of the Sierra Club recommendation of setting a goal of at least 30% of growth — the same being met by Investor-owned utilities like AEP and ONCOR –and well short of goals adopted by CPS Energy and Austin Energy, they are indeed a good start toward bringing PEC customers programs designed to save energy and build on the programs already in place at the electric cooperative.
In addition to the resolution on energy efficiency, the Board of Directors adopted a mandatory goal that the cooperative obtain at least 30 % of its capacity for energy come from renewable resources like wind, geothermal and solar energy. According to the staff, PEC currently obtains about 20% of its capacity from renewable resources, both through its contract with LCRA which includes wind and hydro power, as well as a separate wind contract it has. By adopting the resolution, those types of contracts are likely to increase in the near future, as well as specific programs designed to help get PEC cooperative members to invest in solar technologies on-site. The new PEC goal is more ambitious than the 20% goal established by CPS Energy, the energy provider in San Antonio, though not quite as aggressive as the goal adopted by Austin Energy.
While the two new policies caused some PEC members to complain either that they went too far, or not far enough, both resolutions will require an annual accounting and analysis, meaning the PEC will be able to adjust the timing and scope of the goals going forward.
Cyrus Reed, Acting Chapter Director