Great Roundtable Article in DMN

Posted on Posted in PUC/ERCOT, Texas Electricity News, Trends

Here’s a great article in the Dallas Morning News that discusses a number of topics about the deregulated electricity market after they convened a panel of experts, including some REP executives, some people from the PUC, and some consumer advocates. It’s a pretty interesting and informative piece that covers a lot of different topics in the deregulated electric market. Here’s some of the Highlights…

In General:

  • One thing every member of the panel agreed upon was that if consumers aren’t or refuse to educate themselves on the way the deregulated market works, there is the potential that they’ll get hurt.
  • Customers can now find prices that are lower than they were months before the end of regulation, despite rising fuel costs and inflation
  • Despite the above fact, energy costs in Texas have increased almost 30% more than the rest of the country over the same time span.
  • Wind Energy has already lowered prices in South Texas and Houston and will continue to do so as more transport lines are built to get to the cheap west Texas wind energy.
  • Market Confusion:

  • Advocates say that the market is confusing, and that all people care about is lowest prices and the least hastle.
  • REP executives disagree, saying that research shows that most people understand the Texas electric market and that they have choices in the marketplace.
  • Executives also point out that it’s no different than the cell phone market, where consumers choose from complicated plans with different features at different prices.
  • Smart Meters:

  • Smart Meters can offer many different opportunities to lower prices, from automating utilities, monitoring your usage real time, and potentially saving people 3 Billion on electric costs.
  • Despite the potential, many people fear the smart meters will be easy to hacked and take advantage of people electronically.
  • Market Oversight:

  • A common customer complaint is that the PUC no longer has to look out for the individual customer, who now mostly has to look after themselves.
  • While the PUC has leveled more fines than ever before in the History of the PUC, there is mixed opinions on whether or not this is a sign that the system is working properly.
  • Some people wonder why the fines leveled to different companies don’t find their way back into the pockets of consumers.
  • The PUC points out that under the deregulated electric market, the PUC has been extremely effective in changing laws and oversight that are antiquated or ineffective. A major example of this was modifying the rates that can be charged to customers when their REP goes out of business and they’re switched to the Provider of Last Resort.
  • It’s an extremely interesting article. I’d advise everyone to give it a good read, as there’s lots of great information there, more than I can do justice in a short blog post.

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