Our colleagues at the Dallas Morning News have been making some folks in the Texas’ electric industry a bit angry in recent weeks.
Earlier this month they wrote about a residential customer who was mistakenly billed $20,000 for her monthly electric usage and then sent a disconnect notice.
They also wrote about some pre-pay electric companies, which tend to be used by the poorest of the poor or the disabled. At least two firms were run by people with criminal records.
The Public Utility Commission held a hearing on the prepaid issue this month in response, and is at least making some indication it’s looking at the issue.
Reporter Elizabeth Souder notes in her blog how she’s being accused of being biased in her reporting and suddenly every electric company, lobbyist and interest group wants to have lunch with her, no doubt to “help her understand” the issues.
While it’s been a while since we’ve revisited a lot of the woes of the electric market in Texas it’s a familiar pattern. You write about the problems and get accused of “not getting it” or being unfair. I’m sure she’ll have no problem surviving the flak, but it’s still not a lot of fun becoming the target of the mud slinging.
To be sure, Texas’ electricity market is complicated and the problems consumers face aren’t always as clear-cut as they seem. Generally speaking most readers or callers say they just want a low price that won’t change on them. They don’t want the basic service of power to their homes made as complex as shopping for car insurance, wading through health insurance paperwork or assembling a piece of furniture from Ikea. But getting the most out the state’s electricity markets for those of us in the areas open to competition requires regular homework and a bit of risk-taking.
How’s the deregulated power market in Texas working out for you? I know asking this question tends to elicit just the negative responses, but let’s hear it anyways.