The power to change: legislators try to tweak the electric system

Every legislative session since Texas opened its electric retail markets to competition in 2002 has had a few bills designed to change the system. This session is no different, as seen by the bills introduced Monday.
But opponents of those efforts seemed ready and waiting early Monday with counterpoints:

“This legislation is being pushed by a self-serving group of regulatory lawyers seeking to decimate a market which has sparked $36 billion in new generation investment in the last decade, with billions more planned,” shouted Luminant, the Dallas-based power plant operator. “Their goal is to create a problem that doesn’t exist while furthering their own business interests and ultimately hurting consumers.”

And Texas Competitive Power Advocates, a group representing other power generators and marketers, fired off a less caustic missive:

“Texans are seeing falling electric rates, cleaner power plants, new jobs and billions in new investment as competitive electric providers strive to keep pace with our fast-growing population and energy needs. More government regulation would undermine new energy investment and discourage developments in the cleaner, more reliable electric generation Texas needs.”

The TCPA also compared electric rates in the Dallas and Houston areas before those areas were opened to retail competition in 2002 and just last month. It’s similar to comparisons the Association of Electric Companies of Texas has made consistently. Here it is below.


But there’s a little problem.
While the Dec. 2001 rates are accurate (but misleading say supporters of changes, but that’s another issue) the Feb. 2009 numbers are not. Reliant’s lowest rate in the Houston area has yet to drop below 10 cents per kwh. And while TXU’s lowest price in North Texas is now 9.3 cents, a spokeswoman for the company said last month it was a bit higher than the 9.5 cents shown.
TCPA officials acknowledged the mistake on Monday, saying they used a North Dallas zip code on the Power To Choose web site for both sets of numbers accidentally. The TXU official believes the figures way actually be for the area of North Texas served by Texas New Mexico Power and not the other major transmission company in the area, Oncor.