Although electricity prices in Texas have decreased somewhat from a peak a few years back, they still remain higher than they were during the decade before deregulation. They also don’t compare so well to prices in neighboring states.
Consider, for example, the year-to-date electric pricing information from February 2011, which is the last month for which the federal government has relevant data. As has been consistently the case in the past, the data show that Texans pay more for electricity than residents of New Mexico, Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma. And the differences are not small. Texans, for instance, pay nearly 35 percent more for electricity than what residents of Louisiana are paying. We also pay nearly 40 percent more than Arkansas residents.
Texas likewise lead neighboring states in percentage increases in electricity prices. Since 1999, the average cost of electricity for Texas residential consumers has gone up 45 percent. For residents of Arkansas and Louisiana, electric prices have gone up just 5.7 and 14.3 percent respectively.
What’s to explain these differences? Part of the problem is inefficiency in our state’s deregulated electricity market. Texans have suffered years of needlessly high prices under the system. This has sapped the consumer economy of billions of dollars. Research also has shown that Texans in deregulated areas consistently pay more for electricity than Texans living outside deregulation.
You can check out the data yourself at the United States Energy Information Administration. The most recent monthly pricing data can be found at http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/epm/table5_6_a.html
Is a policy analyst consultant for TCAP, a coalition of political subdivisions in Texas that purchase electricity in the deregulated market for their own governmental use. Because energy costs are typically a significant budget item to our members, TCAP is consistently looking for ways to save our members money, through cost-saving contracts, energy efficiency or demand response programs.