Here’s some food for thought. Recall that for years before deregulation, electric rates in Texas were below the national average. Recall also the famous words of former state Sen. David Sibley, co-author of the electric deregulation law, who said that the market change would be if it didn’t result in even lower rates.

Well it now appears that some within state government have changed their definitions of “success” and “failure” — at least with regards to the deregulated electricity market. In a recent self evaluation report, staff at the Texas Public Utility Commission set forth a “target” of achieving electric prices in Texas that are 113 percent of the national average. Said another way: the goal identified by the PUC is that Texas electric consumers should pay 13 percent more than average consumers nationwide, not less.

But here’s the kicker. In the same self-evaluation report, the PUC staff reveals that the average residential electricity price in Texas during the 2008 fiscal year was even higher than that 113 percent goal. Instead Texas residential electricity prices from competitive suppliers were 129.4 percent of the national average. That means that Texas, through its relatively high electricity prices, has surpassed the PUC’s staff’s goals for residential consumers.

And if there’s any doubt that Texans still pay too much for electricity, the most recent data from the federal United States Energy Information Administration shows that through July 2009 (the most recent months available) that Texas residential electric consumers were still paying above the national average.

— R.A. Dyer