Retail electric providers want out of bills

Think your retail electric providers are fighting for you at the Texas Capitol? Think again. In  this month before a key legislative committee, representatives for the state’s largest retail electric providers expressed support for removing information from home bills intended to help residential customers.

Under current law, REPs are required to print the following short message on all bills: “For more information about residential electric service please visit” Texans who visit that website will find information about the market, a sampling of electricity prices — even complaint information. But the requirement that REPs promote the powertochoose website expires in September.

And that’s how it should be, according to representatives for the Alliance for Retail Markets and the Association of Electric Companies of Texas.  During a , both argued against House Bill 1374 that would require REPs to continue printing the public service announcements.  “It is our opinion that REPs should no longer be required to reference the powertochose site on their bills,” said the ARM representative.

Rep. Dwayne Bohac

But state Rep. Dwayne Bohac, the Angleton lawmaker who crafted HB 1374, said competition benefits when customers have more information. “I believe in the free market,” said Bohac. “The more information we can put in a central location so people can shop around, the more efficient the market works and (that means) greater economic growth. I’m not scared of competition.”

The Texas Coalition for Affordable Power also supports House Bill 1374.

One of the REP groups that opposes the bill, the Alliance for Retail Markets, represents 15 companies in Texas. According to recent regulatory filings, members include Constellation NewEnergy, Inc; Direct Energy, LP; First Choice Power; Green Mountain Energy Company; Gexa Energy, LP; Integrys Energy Services of Texas, LP; Sempra Energy Solutions LLC; and Stream Energy.  The Association of Electric Companies of Texas includes Reliant and TXU Energy, two of the state’s largest REPs.

If you’re looking to complain about the companies’ lobby efforts, you can always find their contact information at the Powertochoose website.