The 83rd session of the Texas Legislature is in full swing, with lawmakers now considering more than 100 bills relating to the Texas energy market. Just below we’ve listed some of those bills, along with our analysis as to their pocketbook impact. Will these bills save us money for cost us more?
Utilities typically save money on their federal taxes by consolidating the federal returns from their different affiliates. But HB 711 and Senate Bill 1364 would make it impossible for the Public Utility Commission to properly consider these tax savings when they set your utility rates. These bills would make Texans pay an unfair share of their utility’s tax bills, and lead to HIGHER rates.
It’s important that consumers have champions to defend their interests during utility rate cases. Historically, cities have played this role. During the last decade alone, city involvement in rate cases have have helped save Texans more than $5 billion. But under House Bill 1148, cities would find it more difficult to defend their citizens in rate cases. This legislation will potentially INCREASE electric costs.
Although their overarching purpose is to reauthorize the Public Utility Commission, HB 1600 and SB 206 also include important consumer protections. These protections includes new enforcement authority for the PUC and a requirement that the PUC conduct cost-benefit studies before embarking on super-expensive market changes. As currently written, these bills BENEFIT electric consumers.
These bills create new standard offers in the Texas electricity market. Standard offers help consumers by allowing apples-to-apples price comparisons when Texans shop for power. These bills enhance competition, increase choices and should help keep prices down. We give HB 1962 and SB 599 TWO THUMBS UP.
Another great bill for consumers, SB 602 would improve the state’s powertochoose website by requiring that it include additional information about complaints filed against electric retailers. Like HB 1962 and SB 599, this bill will help Texans shop for the best deals in the deregulated electricity market.
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.