In the wake of the Texas Legislature’s failure to pass a much-watched bill on electricity markets, Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford and Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston, have asked the Texas Public Utility Commission to get the job done instead.
As we wrote here and R.G. Ratcliffe wrote here a bill that, among other things, would have given some measure of protection from high power bills to poor consumers died in the final hours of the Legislature last week. In a letter dated May 31 and sent to the three commissioners, King said: “Unfortunately, the final enactment was blocked by House procedural rules.”
“Important measures included new consumer protections related to summer and winter heat advisories, and provisions that would allow most customers to switch electricity providers without incurring penalties. During the floor debate, some members argued that the Public Utility Commission already has administrative authority to implement the consumer protections that would have been mandated by the enactment of this important legislation.”
The PUC does have authority over some of these issues and took action last summer, using an emergency measure to protect elderly and low-income customers from having their power cut during the hottest months.
Turner is a bit more specific with his request:
“Because the will of the Legislature is clear on this matter I request that the Commission immediately adopt by rule two provisions included in SB 482: 1) the prohibition on disconneciton for vulnerable populations during the period from July 1 to September 30 and 2) the provision allowing all low-income customers to establish bill payment plans during that period.”
He also asks the commissioners to look at the last version of the bill up for a vote and see what other parts they can implement.