Photo courtesy EP Electric
On Friday, El Paso Electric (EPE) received preliminary approval to adjust the fixed fuel factor, meaning EPE customers who reside in Texas will see an increase on their electric bill beginning this May as a direct result of fuel costs.
“Since 2017, we received approval from the PUCT to issue our Texas customers fuel refunds since gas prices were at historic lows; however, in late 2020 we began to see fuel prices return to normal levels,” shares EPE President and CEO Kelly A. Tomblin.
“While since then we were under collecting on fuel costs as this is a pass-through charge to our customers, we made an active choice not to file for an increase to the fixed fuel factor knowing the impact the pandemic has had on many. This is why we are working diligently with community organizations who are connecting customers to utility payment assistance.”
The typical residential customer with an average use of 935 kWh per summer month will see an estimated monthly increase of $5.80, or 5%, on their total electric bill.
The fuel factor is designed to recover the cost of the fuel used to generate electricity, a cost EPE incurs supplying electricity to customers.
EPE is permitted by its regulators to only recover the actual fuel expenses and any over-recoveries are then subject to refund. EPE adjusts fuel factors periodically to more accurately reflect the current and forecasted cost of fuel. EPE does not earn a profit on fuel costs.
Additionally, officials say the filing is not related to the winter freeze event experienced in Texas earlier this year, and that this will be the first increase to the fixed fuel factor since 2017. In the last four years, EPE has issued three fuel refunds.
“When we were calculating what this fixed fuel factor would be, we decided to self-impose a cap on the amount we would collect,” added Tomblin. “Without the self-imposed cap, the average increase to total bills would have stood around $9. So, if we raise the fuel factor now, then it will help prevent a higher increase later.”
EPE also reminds customers who are struggling to pay their electric bill to contact the Company’s Customer Care Team to learn of payment assistance, as there are a number of options available to them.
EPE is working with both Project Amistad and Project Bravo to assist customers who reside in El Paso County.
For a list of the resources and other payment options, contact their Customer Care Team by email at CustomerCare@epelectric.com, by phone at (915) 543-5970, or visit epelectric.com and search Assistance Programs.