Lawmakers fear that changes under consideration by regulators will drive up electricity prices.

No to blank checks. That seems to be the message from two leading lawmakers about proposals that would address the state’s electricity challenges by encouraging prices to go higher.

In separate letters to the Texas Public Utility Commission, State Sen. Wendy Davis and State Rep. Sylvester Turner say no one yet knows how much the proposals will cost. They say the PUC should find out before going forward.

“Nobody wants rolling blackouts (but) neither do we want higher electric bills,” wrote Sen. Davis in a May 4th letter to the agency. “I have concerns that some of the potential changes will lead to higher prices for the constituents that I represent, but with no clear payoff in terms of reliability.”

Rep. Sylvester Turner

Similarly, Rep. Turner wrote “As far as I know, there have been no studies that outline the potential financial impact of these proposals on individual homes and businesses — this concerns me deeply.”

The PUC for the last several months has been considering potentially expensive changes, including the possibility of significantly increasing price caps in the wholesale energy market. The proposals are meant to increase revenues for electric companies in the hope that they will build more power plants. Otherwise, the state may be at risk for blackouts.

Sen. Wendy Davis

But Rep. Turner says he has seen no guarantees that with more money, the power companies will build more plants. Neither is there a clear understanding as to how much energy bills will increase as a result. Rep. Turner urged the Commission in his May 7th letter to “consider both reliability and costs to consumers before taking action.”

Both letters have been filed with the PUC, and can be found online here. Look for Projects #37897 and #40268. You also can read more about the controversial proposals in an earlier article on the Recharge Ratepayer Report, which can be found here.

— R.A. Dyer

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