El Paso Electric (EPE), a utility that serves almost 400,000 customers, recently announced that it plans to eliminate the use of coal by 2016. The utility plans to use a combination of natural gas and solar energy for power generation. In its announcement, the company stated that it will more than exceed carbon emission standards recently mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency.
The EPA announced on June 2 that it wanted power plant emissions cut 30 percent by 2030 from 2005 levels. Its Clean Power Plan is an extension of the federal Clean Air Act, which was passed in 1970. The agency announced its plan after legislation aimed toward reducing carbon emissions did not get through Congress.
EPE recently completed a 50 megawatt power plant in May and another 10 MW plant is scheduled to be built by the end of the year. By that time, according to this article, EPE should generate about 6 percent of its power through solar energy. It currently operates a coal-fired plant that is scheduled to be retired in July of 2016. EPE’s customers are located throughout west Texas and southern portions of New Mexico. This area typically gets around 300 days of sunshine a year, making it the perfect area to implement a large-scale solar program.
It Makes Sense
Because it takes significantly less money to produce power through solar energy, this announcement makes financial – as well as environmental – sense for the utility. Furthermore, this could be an extremely significant development when it comes to increasing the acceptance of solar energy in Texas, not just a symbolic statement by an electric utility. This is obviously one of the most Republican-leaning states in the country, and politicians typically back companies that produce petroleum, coal and other fossil fuels and oppose development of clean energy sources such as wind and solar. If more utilities follow the lead of EPE, there is at least the potential that political resistance could eventually weaken.
Learn more about how solar energy can provide substantial benefits to your home or your business by calling Global Efficient Energy at 1-888-826-7881 or contacting us online.
By Abe Issa
Founder and CEO
Global Efficient Energy