Several bills working their way through the legislative process are likely to send Texans’ utility bills up, consumer advocates say.
On Monday, the House approved a bill that would allow electric utilities to raise rates to pay for projects like building electric poles and wires — without first getting approval for those increases from state regulators, as is customary now. The Senate has already passed a slightly different version.
Similar legislation on the gas side is pending in both the House and Senate; it would streamline the rate-raising process for those utilities, which help heat Texas homes. A House bill that would make water rates easier to adjust has — so far — made little headway.
During the floor debate on Monday about electric rates, state Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston, tried to attach an amendment that would have limited the amount by which utilities could raise their rates under the new, expedited process. “Once the bill takes effect, your electricity bill is going to go up,” said Turner, arguing that his amendment would create a “reasonable cap.” But the House voted down his amendment.
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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.