Texas Cities: Dereg led to higher power costs

February 10th, 2009

The coalition Cities Aggregation Power Project, made up of more than 100 towns and cities (from Rockwall to Decatur, Texas City to Arlington), says that energy deregulation in Texas hasn’t reduced power costs to consumers – it has raised them.

Generating (pardon the expression) statewide media attention, the Cities coalition released an extensive report detailing the impact of ten years of deregulation on Texas. Here are some highlights from the 82-page report (link is to a PDF version from the CAPP website):

* Texans have gone from having rates lower than the national average before deregulation to higher than the national average afterward.
* Enron, which was a big power player (again, apologies for the expression) in politics in Texas at the time, was responsible for much of the structure of the deregulated industries and creator of the problems Texans now face with regard to their electric bills.
* ERCOT has troubles managing Texas’ grid.
* Infrastructure costs from creating renewable energy generation could contribute to higher prices in the future.

The League thinks the cities are right for the most part. Especially during a time of economic uncertainty, the higher electric bills caused by deregulation are a tough pill for Texas consumers to swallow.

Yet at the same time, the investment in infrastructure for renewable power generation – from solar, wind, etc. – is critically important to the future of the Texas economy and for the jobs needed in Texas today.

The challenge for elected officials – from mayors to the Legislature to the governor – is to create a system whereby Texas can increase the amount of renewable power we generate WITHOUT passing an undue amount of the burden of the cost of building it along to consumers, especially low income consumers.

There doesn’t have to be a conflict between clean energy and low utility bills. With true leadership from Washington, Austin and cities across Texas – and with key partnerships with enlightened (pardon the expression again) power generators – Texans can have power that comes from the sun or the wind, not from dirty coal, at a cost that Texans can afford.

Especially with some help from the federal stimulus package….