Whoever coined the phrase “Nothing is certain but death and taxes” might also have included “utility bills” in that list of life’s painful inevitabilities. Nobody likes paying them. Whether it’s to light our homes, for heating or for water and wastewater service — utility bills can be expensive. That’s why it’s important that they’re also fair.

But a piece of legislation currently pending in Austin, Senate Bill 1309, could needlessly and unfairly inflate consumer payments to natural gas utilities. Although filed with the best of intentions, our analysis shows that this bill will encourage inefficient spending by gas utilities and make it easier for them to hike base rates.

What does the bill do? First, SB 1309 would give gas utilities new authority to pursue rate adjustments based upon isolated changes in their businesses. While this may seem innocuous, the actual effect would be to remove from consideration mitigating factors (such as offsetting savings) that could block a rate increase.

To continue to the full article, jump to the Houston Chronicle.