A collection of important consumer friendly bills — including one that would pull the plug on the over-budget and misguided nodal project — won plaudits from CAPP members during key state House committee meetings this week.

“I know the concerns of all Texas with the cost overruns from the original estimates,” said state Rep. Jim Keffer, R-Eastland, as he rolled out his House Bill 2781 that would put an end to the costly nodal project at ERCOT.

Keffer answered questions about the legislation during an April 7 session of the House Committee on State Affairs. The committee also reviewed several other CAPP-supported bills, including House Bill 2782, also by Keffer, that would help combat monopoly power by big generators; House Bill 3245, by state Rep. Burt Solomons, that would establish various protections for electric consumers; and House Bill 2851, by Rep. David Farabee, that would bring more transparency to enforcement proceedings at the Texas Public Utility Commission.

On the following day a fifth consumer-friendly bill — House Bill 2780 by Rep. Keffer — came up for debate in the House Energy Resources Committee, which Rep. Keffer chairs. HB 2780 would help lower electricity bills by allowing municipalities to negotiate bulk rate deals on behalf of their citizens. The legislation has been endorsed by CAPP and other consumer groups.

All told, about a dozen CAPP representatives testified on behalf of consumers during the committee meetings. The CAPP representatives included CAPP chairman Jay Doegey of the city of Arlington, CAPP vice chairman Randy Moravec of the city of Addison, and several mayors and officials from other cities.

Robert Brady, mayor of the city of Denison, said that high electricity prices under the state”s flawed deregulated system was bad for business.

“Oklahoma electric rates are much lower than in Texas,” he said. “We lost an opportunity to land a $150 million glass company that located 10 miles to the north (in Oklahoma). As you know, that harms economic development. There is no way for us to make that up.”

Lewisville mayor Gene Carey agreed. He applauded the State Affairs Committee for putting consumers first by considering the important bills. “I”m here to ask for relief for utility consumers,” he said.

The bills were left pending in both committees.

— R.A. Dyer