With some resistance from Dallas-area Republicans, the Texas House passed a bill that would let utility companies increase rates to pay for some capital projects without having to go through a slow and costly rate case.

The argument came down to who should be protected:
1) The utilities companies, which have to wait years for reimbursements on projects and face interest and attorney costs

or 2) the customers, who could see rate increases with little or no state oversight for years (and some argue decades) before regulators step in.

Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston, a longtime fighter for electricity customers, tried unsuccessfully to put a 10 percent cap (2.5 percent per year) on how much those utilities could raise the electricity bills for consumers per four-year cycle (because those rate case hearings would be mandatory after four annual rate adjustments, otherwise known as Periodic Rate Adjustments).

Turner argued that the consumers could end up paying elevated rates for years before the PUC can get around to deciding whether that new rate is actually fair – and he had bipartisan support from Republicans like Will Hartnett of Dallas, who said he couldn’t understand why the Legislature wouldn’t want to protect customers from skyrocketing rates with no regulation. Public Citizen and the AARP are both groups who are against the bill.

Read the full article Bill takes away another barrier to increasing electricity rates