Texas CapitolOf the thousands of bills so far filed during the 84th Texas Legislature, more than 120 potentially impact gas and electric utility customers. Some would tend to lower prices. Others would have the opposite effect. Some  legislation would impact customers in other ways.

Here’s what to watch for this week:

  • Senate Bill 1444, by Sen. Larry Taylor, would facilitate the use of utility right-of-way for the creation public hike-and-bike trails. The legislation will be considered in public hearing on Tuesday, in the Senate Natural Resources and Economic Development Committee.
  • House Bill 1101, by state Rep. Sylvester Turner, would temporarily extend the life of the System Benefit Fund, which finances rate discounts for low-income electric customers. Texans already have paid for this extension. House Bill 1101 simply ensures that money collected from ratepayers for the System Benefit Fund is used for its intended purpose. House Bill 1101 will be considered during a public hearing on Wednesday, during a subcommittee meeting of the House Appropriations committee.
  • House Bill 2561, by state Rep. Jim Keffer, relates to wholesale power costs that accrue as a result of line congestion. The intention of HB 2561 is to allocate that money back to transmission projects that tend to alleviate the congestion. The bill will be heard on Wednesday, in House State Affairs.

Also, several important pro-consumer bills await hearings. These include House Bill 3084 and Senate Bill 1271, which would help protect city coalitions that defend the interests of electric ratepayers. Likewise House Bill 2988, Senate Bill 1905 and House Bill 3749 help preserve city coalitions — but specifically those coalitions that defend gas utility customers at the Texas Railroad Commission.

Stay tuned here for more legislative details as they become available. Want to contact your local lawmaker? Check out the link here.

— R.A. Dyer

What is the Texas Coalition for Affordable Power?

TCAP is a coalition of more than 160 cities and other political subdivisions that purchase electricity in the deregulated market for their own governmental use. Because high energy costs can impact municipal budgets and the ability to fund essential services, TCAP, as part of its mission, actively promotes affordable energy policies. High energy prices also place a burden on local businesses and home consumers.