The Texas Public Utility Commission is expected to vote June 28th on a plan to significantly increase a price cap on wholesale power. While much remains uncertain, Jim Mitchell of The Dallas Morning News notes there’s one thing we can know for sure: “Eventually the costs will be passed through to consumers.”
This is a growing concern, and one that has begun attracting more and more media scrutiny. Brad Watson, in a segment for WFAA-TV in Dallas (see the imbedded video, above), asks whether our state faces a future of higher bills. Kate Galbraith of the Texas Tribune cites industry figures showing $4.7 billion in added costs had the pricing change been in effect last year. Ms. Galbraith says that corresponds to about $17 per month on a typical home bill.
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram noted that the PUC plans “to push prices up without first examining the potential impact on residential or business electrical consumers.” Similarly the Houston Chronicle, in an editorial June 27th, says “The PUC owes it to the public to slow down, put the numbers on paper and share them before throwing the switch on this proposal.”
Dave Fehling, a reporter for NPR’s State Impact Texas project, quotes a PUC commissioner’s warning that generation companies will end up “carting money away, not in wheelbarrows, but in Mack trucks.” Here’s the link to Mr. Fehling’s report.
Loren Steffy, also of the Houston Chronicle, writes that as a likely consequence of the proposed change “consumers, who have already paid some of the highest electric rates in the country, will now, once again, pay more.” You can read Mr. Steffy’s June 19th column here.
Numerous other media outlets also have weighed in, including the Dallas Observer and the Public Broadcasting System affiliate in San Antonio.
Have an opinion? Don’t be shy. You can comment at the end of this post, write the Texas Public Utility Commission at PUC Central Records, P.O. Box 13326, Austin, TX, 78711-3326 (be sure to reference Projects #37897 and #40268), or write your local lawmaker at the mailing address found at this link.
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.