A proposal to streamline the ratemaking process — described as an “emerging issue” in the most recent Scope of Competition report by the Texas Public Utility Commission — has been temporarily put on hold by the agency. Some lawmakers apparently don’t want the controversial issue to come up at the PUC until they adjourn sine die, on June 1. Otherwise, “the Commission would have taken the issue by the horns,” PUC Chairman Barry Smitherman said during the panel’s Jan. 29 meeting.

Recall that under deregulation, only transmission and distribution utilities remain rate regulated. One of the state’s major transmission and distribution utilities, AEP Texas, has begun advocating for a process to compress and accelerate rate cases. The proposal would apply to all utilities regulated by the PUC, including those outside of ERCOT. Consumer groups note that the time lag could reduce utility incentives to overbuild. Consumer groups also say accelerated ratemaking helps utilities when their costs go up, but does not necessarily benefit ratepayers when utility costs go down.

— R.A. Dyer

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