Churches and other houses of worship are paying more for electricity in Texas due to high demand charges. Most small churches meet once a week but the demand for electricity on the one day is higher than the rest of the week which is why the demand charges occur.
Texas House Bill 1064 was designed to exempt certain customers from certain demand charges by transmission and distribution utilities. “The legislative intent is to provide relief to small non-profits, churches, and other similarly situated entities whose seasonal or occasional usage peaks trigger an artificially high demand charge,” a comment on December 19, 2011 by Charles Anderson about the bill stated.
The Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission told the Public Utility Commission of Texas about its concerns with the bill. “The tiered system in the Oncor service territory imposes a ‘ratchet’ on these same customer by using their load factor from the previous year as a price driver,” PROJECT NO. 39829 stated on the PUCT’s website.
Electric Rates has also gotten several confused churches asking why the electric bill has been so high due to high demand charges. The Utility companies who charge the distribution and transmission is not the same as the electric company the churches buy the electricity from. Many people have switched electric companies hoping to save money only to find out they are paying the same for TDSP charges with their new provider.
The demand for each house of worship varies which makes it harder to determine a price ceiling implementation by utility companies.
Should churches be treated just like every other customer in the service territory? The PUCT will have to determine if houses of worship get special privileges because of their unique characteristics. Many people would conclude they should be exempt to high demand charges because it does not affect the power grid.