Electric bill dies in Texas Lege

A bill that would have let cities negotiate electricity prices on behalf of residents and cancel an over-budget upgrade of the state’s power grid (among other things) won’t come before the full Texas Legislature this session.
HB 3245 appears to have been postponed on a technicality and thus didn’t meet a Thursday night deadline for all bills to be considered by the end of the session.
The bill would have also put more restrictions on how big a percentage of the state’s power market individual companies could hold, would have killed the Electric Reliability Council of Texas’ years-late and hundreds-of-millions-of-dollars over budget nodal system upgrade, and provided more consumer protections from electric service disconnects.
In a statement Geoffrey Gay, general counsel for the group that essentially wrote the bill, the Cities Aggregation Power Project, called the bill’s failure “another victory for the electric lobby, and another set back for Texas ratepayers.”

“The legislation would have helped lower electricity prices by creating new customer protections and new rules against anti-competitive behavior. It would have helped make electricity more affordable by making deregulation more competitive.
What electric industry lobbyists feared most was a public vote on these important protections. With the point of order, they avoided one. Consumers should be outraged.

Tim Morstad, a spokesman for the consumer group AARP said he was “deeply disappointed that electricity customer protection legislation was killed by a technicality …”

This legislation would have saved lives by creating important new safeguards against electricity shut offs on dangerously hot days.

Industry was fiercly opposed to the bill from Day 1, with Dallas based power plant operator Luminant calling it “anti-Texan” and “an attack on the free enterprise system.” The changes to how big a slice of the state’s market individual companies could hold was aimed squarely at Luminant.
Supporters of the bill had pointed to Texas’ above-the-national-average power prices as one of the drivers for it, but the effort also came at a time when natural gas prices hit lows not seen in years, bringing power prices down too.

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