Electricity still too expensive under Texas electric deregulation law

That electricity rates have gone down in recent months is great news without a doubt. But that doesn’t mean that flaws in our state’s deregulated system have been corrected.

National survey from Whitefence.com shows Houstons pay third most for electricity.

Consider, for example, what residents in the state’s largest city with deregulation pay for electricity versus what residents in the state’s largest city without deregulation pay. In Houston’s deregulated market, dozens of retail electric providers compete for customers. In San Antonio, a single municipally-owned utility serves everyone.

But according to a recent pricing survey on the Public Utility Commission web site, the cost of 1,000 kw/h of electricity from the very lowest fixed-rate deal available in Houston was $94.20, while the cost for that same amount of power for all customers in San Antonio was $91.67. That means that Houstonians can shop around all they like under electric deregulation, and still end up paying more for fixed-rate electricity than what everyone pays in San Antonio.

Not only that, but electricity sold under the very lowest fixed-rate deal in Houston is still more expensive than electricity sold by every municipally-owned utility surveyed by the PUC, and more expensive than all but one investor-owned utility. This is according to a PUC pricing survey for April, the most recent month available at the agency.

Sources outside the PUC tell a similar story. For instance, Whitefence.com, a commercial website, shows Houston as having the third most expensive electricity among cities it surveyed nationwide for April 2011.