State Rep. Sylvester Turner believes the PUC overstepped its authority when it adopted a controversial rule last week that will bar some Texans from shopping for electricity in the deregulated market. Under the rule, which the PUC commissioners approved on Sept. 15, some Texans who owe back payments to their retail electric provider would be blocked from switching service to another provider until the back bill is paid. Speaking to Jeff Ehling of the ABC affiliate in Houston, Turner likened the rule to one that would bar a consumer from shopping for clothes if the consumer owed money to a single department store.  “The PUC, the Public Utility Commission, does not have the authority to put people totally in the dark, even if there is another retail electric provider that is willing to offer the service, recognizing somebody’s payment history,” said Turner.

The new rule, which has been criticized by a number of consumer organizations including the AARP, takes effect next year.