Written on: October 27, 2016
Electricity complaints filed with state regulators have dropped precipitously to a new post-electric deregulation low, according to a new report by the Texas Coalition for Affordable Power.
All told, Texans filed 4,835 electricity-related complaints or inquiries with the Texas Public Utility Commission during the most recent fiscal year — down from the 6,973 electricity-related complaints or inquires filed during FY 2015. This nearly 31 percent decline is among the steepest since the state deregulated most of its retail electricity market in 2002.
The PUC also reported a drop in almost all discrete categories of electric complaints over the last fiscal year. These include a drop in meter complaints, provision of service complaints and those relating to “switch-holds,” which is the practice of blocking residential electric service.
These findings and more are part of the latest Snapshot Report from the Texas Coalition for Affordable Power, which is a coalition of cities that have banded together to purchase power for their own governmental use. The coalition, as part of its mission, promotes affordable energy policies. You can read the TCAP report here.
The new Snapshot Report suggests that Texans are feeling more comfortable with the state’s deregulated market, said TCAP Executive Director Jay Doegey.
“This upbeat report shows complaints have dropped precipitously since the early years of electric deregulation,” said Mr. Doegey. “It appears that Texans are becoming more comfortable with their electricity providers, and less frustrated with bad actors in the market. This is very positive news.”
For its analysis, TCAP reviewed 19 years of complaint data at the PUC, the state agency that oversees the Texas electricity market. TCAP considers both complaints and inquires in order to gauge general consumer sentiment and also to maintain a uniform methodology across the study period.
The previous record low for complaints and inquires filed during the deregulation era came in FY 2015. The highest number of complaints and inquiries came in FY 2003, when Texans filed 17,250. Texas deregulated most of its retail electric market in 2002.
Texans can find complaint data for individual companies at the state’s electricity shopping web site, powertochoose.org. TCAP recommends that consumers always check the industry data at powertochoose.org when shopping for electricity.
Electricity customers wishing to file complaints can do so through the PUC’s Office of Customer Protection, which can be reached at 1-888-782-8477, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or online at http://www.puc.texas.gov/consumer/complaint/Complaint.aspx. When appropriate, the PUC will investigate such complaints, and may sanction companies if a rule violation is found.
R.A. Dyer is a policy analyst for TCAP, a coalition of cities and other political subdivisions that purchase electricity in the deregulated market for their own governmental use. Because high energy costs can impact municipal budgets and the ability to fund essential services, TCAP, as part of its mission, actively promotes affordable energy policies. High energy prices also place a burden on local businesses and home consumers.