One Woodlands, under Entergy: not too likely

Residents in parts of the Woodlands served by CenterPoint Energy were a bit angry that parts of the community served by Entergy-Texas had their power restored post-Hurricane Ike much more quickly. There’s been a movement afoot to get the companies to swap territories, but it appears that’s not going to work out, according to a story in the Chronicle today:

In a letter to The Woodlands Township, the [Public Utility Commission] outlined the legal requirement for CenterPoint and Entergy to swap territory to bring the entire community under one electric provider. While the letter did not indicate the swap could not be done, the steps needed to accomplish the transfer appear insurmountable.
“Essentially, there is a high statutory standard that must be met before a service territory can be transferred, and even if this did occur, there is no guarantee that this would lead to faster service restoration in the event of another devastating storm due to the different nature of the CenterPoint and Entergy transmission systems” said Barry Smitherman, chairman of the PUC, in a letter to the township.
Instead, Smitherman cited a statewide effort to identify ways to improve the electrical distribution system by burying lines and requiring stronger poles in vulnerable areas. The entire Houston region was devastated by the effects of Hurricane Ike.

Some of the barriers:

• CenterPoint holds the certificate of convenience and necessity for Sterling Ridge and Creekside Park, which gives exclusive rights to provide electricity in those areas.
• A certificate of convenience and necessity can only be revoked if the company no longer provide power service in that area.
• Multiple CCNs are not permitted in any given area.

The PUC also points out that CenterPoint customers are able to choose their retail electric providers, but based on the steady stream of e-mails and calls the Chronicle fields from consumers, electric competition isn’t exactly a source of joy. Entergy-Texas has been trying to become part of ERCOT (and thus retail competition) for several years now, so maybe everyone in The Woodlands will end up under the same umbrella anyhow.