The Philadelphia Energy Authority Was Sort of Passed
Yesterday was City Council’s last meeting until late September and they may have done something potentially awesome, kinda. It’s what we once dubbed the Philadelphia energy public option, and a weak version of the idea passed City Council.
So, first off, here’s what you should know about PECO: Rates are about to rise 10 percent.
At the end of the year, caps that have kept electric rates at 1996 levels will come off, and Peco’s 1.6 million customers will be free to choose a new supplier of electricity from a wider variety of providers.
For most residential customers, the change may not be so dramatic. Peco’s wires will still carry electricity to all the region’s Pennsylvania customers, and Peco will still provide customer service and billing.
Peco’s distribution fees, which account for about a third of a typical customer’s bill, will still be regulated by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.
But PECO will no longer be in the power-generation business.The suppliers that customers choose may offer discounts or electricity from renewable power sources.
For customers who don’t switch, Peco will buy power on their behalf at a “default rate” to be set late this year. Rates are expected to go up about 10 percent.
Councilman Darrell L. Clarke introduced a bill to fight this on behalf of city government and, not surprisingly, it was passed 17-0, in spite of PECO’s lobbyists’ objections. The bill’s main effect will be to create an authority, with five members appointed by the administration and council, to form longer energy partnerships and, according to Clarke, easier engage in alternative energy projects.
The authority had originally been thought of as a co-op for city residents but current law bars the city from selling energy to anyone but itself. Therefore, for the time being, that’s who Council is helping out.
According to KYW, PECO says the bill’s language will hurt its bond ratings, with traders believing the city is now in competition with PECO, which it isn’t.
The authority could eventually help “develop innovative projects, such as systems to generate power from the methane released by the Water Department’s treatment facilities, or set up solar generating stations to power city government facilities.”
And perhaps the writing on the wall is just what PECO fears, in that this thing could end up helping us out. For the time being, though, PECO’s 1996 rates are still headed up independent of potential federal cap and trade legislation.