By Jessica Christianson

As El Paso Electric enters its 121st year of service to our region and we wrap up the 50th anniversary of Earth month, we take a moment to reflect on how our energy use impacts the planet and steps we can all take to mitigate those impacts.

Jessica Christianson

Over the past year, El Paso Electric formalized a commitment and roadmap to provide 80% of our power from carbon-free resources by 2035. We concurrently set a goal to be 100% carbon free by 2045. We are eager to integrate clean generation resources and technical upgrades to our grid to make these goals a reality in a way that is accessible and affordable for everyone.

In 2021, we unveiled a new strategic plan built around our commitment to our customer and our environment, underscoring the connection between them. Our mission is to transform the energy landscape with a vision of powering the next hundred years of growth, innovation and economic vibrancy. Two of our anchors to achieve this are to lead environmental sustainability and to leverage technology to drive efficiency and security.

A central sustainability and technology initiative for EPE is transportation electrification. Electrification has topped our list of priorities for several years and really gained momentum with the recent launch of our New Mexico Public Regulation Commission approved transportation electrification plan.

This plan allows us to offer rebates and incentives on the purchase of electric vehicle charging infrastructure for residential and commercial customers in New Mexico, along with dynamic rates that help save money when charging your EV. We are currently developing an aligned transportation electrification proposal for our Texas customers, to be considered by the Public Utility Commission of Texas.

The benefits of EVs are abundant and at EPE we devoted our Earth month activities to collaborating with regional partners to educate our communities about these benefits: absolutely no gas for fully electric vehicles, next to no maintenance (no more oil changes, spark plugs or other typical auto up-keep), quiet and smooth rides, and most importantly, the minimized environmental impact of zero tailpipe emissions.

Transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States and a large-scale transition to electric vehicles will meaningfully minimize our climate impact and positively influence regional air quality. At EPE we are continuously transitioning to cleaner energy, so that EVs charged on El Paso Electric’s grid will continue to be powered by lower carbon resources.

As we integrate smart meters and other technologies into our system, customers will have more visibility and control over how much and what type of energy they are using. Electrification can also help us build a stronger grid.

With energy demands typically peaking in the late afternoon and early evening, utilization of our infrastructure drops dramatically overnight. Managed charging programs and other electrification initiatives will allow us to balance energy consumption, use existing infrastructure more efficiently, employ batteries as distributed and resilient energy resources, and incentivize customers when they contribute to these efforts.

EPE has consistently ranked number one for reliability in Texas and we continue to strive for that standard across our 10,000-square-mile service territory. We have maintained this high degree of reliability with a balance of nuclear, natural gas and renewable energy.

With 115 megawatts of solar power on our system, we know we have room to grow and have concrete plans to triple renewable energy in the coming years and to provide customers with voluntary programs to use their energy more efficiently and subscribe to specific renewable energy solutions.

We recognize achieving a low/no-carbon energy future requires long-term resource and portfolio transitions, and we are continuously evaluating additional resources to ensure we continue to provide clean, safe reliable power.

All month, we had the honor of sharing our clean energy plans and initiatives to support transportation electrification with our customers across Southern New Mexico and Far West Texas. As we move out of Earth month and into our summer season, we remind ourselves that every day is Earth day and we all play a role in the energy cycle, how we generate it, how we deliver it and how we consume it.

Jessica Christianson is senior director of innovation and sustainability with El Paso Electric.

Disclosure: El Paso Electric is a financial supporter of El Paso Matters.