By C.T. Barnes
Published in Las Cruces Sun-News 05.15.22
What do you know about decarbonization? For Las Cruces Utilities (LCU) customers it’s a word you are going to hear a lot about and it will change things for the better.
In approving LCU natural gas rate increase, the City Council also directed the LCU Board to start applying the 15-cent-per-dekathem decarbonization rider for all customers in the first year rather than phasing it in over three years. The rider on natural gas usage will be used to fund an energy transition plan and evaluate and implement energy efficiency measures in LCU’s gas service area. There are many buildings in Las Cruces that need improvement, as pointed out by LCU Deputy Director Business Services Jose Provencio, “we have structures in the city that were built 30, 40, or more years ago, and the problem is that these structures haven’t had many improvements when it comes to the topic of gas energy efficiency.”
According to Provencio, the decarbonization rider will go into effect in the Fall of 2022, after the commodity emergency recovery surcharge is completed at the end of summer. “It will take at least two years before LCU customers begin to see the benefits of the decarbonization rider,” the plan is to collect the funds, select a consultant who will guide the city-owned utility in developing an energy transition plan and identify efficiency programs that help LCU customers modernize homes or businesses.
What does this mean for the average residential customer? The average LCU customer uses 72 dekatherms per household annually. Using that number, the decarbonization rider of $0.15 will cost the average household $10.80 per year or $0.90 per month. Again, the rider will go into effect during the Fall of 2022 putting LCU on track to implement energy efficiency programs for natural gas in one to two years.
The money generated by the decarbonization rider will be put right back into the community. Conservatively LCU is looking to generate $500,000 per year, which will fund the creation of an energy transition plan that outlines responsible ways to transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy while addressing the needs and financial impact to our community and customers. The funds will also assist customers to become more energy efficient, with installation of insulation and structure sealing, replacing aged gas appliances with new more efficient ones that are better insulated and pilotless ignition.
The first step in reducing our carbon footprint is “first raising and gathering the funding, then developing a master plan, then identifying cost effective efficiency measures,” concluded Provencio.
LCU – Your Utility Connection. Customer Central can be reached at 575-541-2111 from 8 a.m. - 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. LCU provides clean, safe, and reliable services to Las Cruces residents and businesses. Learn more at: las-cruces.org/180/Utilities
For emergencies, call Dispatch at 526-0500.
PHOTO 1: LCU Crews installing natural gas pipe-Courtesy LCU