There’s been plenty of extra costs and surcharges loaded onto consumer electric bills as the result of various legislative actions. Here’s a partial list of bills adopted during the last several sessions – and the potential impact on Texas electric ratepayers.

  • Senate Bill 20, adopted during special session in 2005, mandated the creation of Competitive Renewable Energy Zones to mark the site of future transmission lines to serve wind generators. The cost of new construction from this legislation could amount to at least $5 billion to $8 billion, according to recent estimates. That amounts to between $227 and $363 per customer served by ERCOT.
  • House Bill 2129, also adopted in 2005, opened the door to “advanced meter surcharges.” Monthly surcharges ordered this year under that bill will increase bills by $2.21 per residential customer served by Oncor, and by $3.05-$3.24 for customers of CenterPoint. Those charges will last for 11 years. That’s a total cost to residential ratepayers of $961.5 million for CenterPoint, and $1 billion for Oncor.
  • Senate Bill 769, adopted earlier during the current legislative session, will increase bills for typical CenterPoint customers to between $2.50 to $3 per month for the next 11 to 14 years. In the case of Entergy customers (in the Galveston area), it would increase bills by an estimated $5.25 per month for the next 15 years. That’s a total of $677.8 million for CenterPoint and $577 million for Entergy. Gov. Perry signed the bill April 16. It was touted as a Hurricane Ike recovery bill, although it leaves the door open to more surcharges for future weather events throughout Texas.
  • Senate Bill No. 541, which remains pending in the current session, mandates the installation of 1,500 megawatts of non-wind renewable generation. The Texas Association of Manufacturers estimates that this legislation could increase consumer bills by between $2 and $3 per month.
  •  The ongoing creation of the nodal market at ERCOT will likely lead to higher prices every month for consumers in many areas of Texas. The implementation alone costs about $640 million — or about $30 per every Texan served by ERCOT.

— R.A. Dyer