House passes King power bill

April 13, 2007

Weatherford Democrat

Staff Reports

AUSTIN — The Texas House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 482 (SB 482) Friday.

According to a release from Weatherford Rep. Phil King, the bill will work to increase competition and lower electric rates in the retail electric market.

King, author of the measure, said passage of the bill is good news for the state’s power consumers.

“Electricity rates in Texas today are too high,” King said. “As a fellow consumer paying high electric bills, both at my home and my small business in Weatherford, I am anxious for rates to decline. Today, with the passage of SB 482, we have made a substantial step toward accomplishing this goal.”

The legislation accelerates price reductions of electricity by encouraging increased competition for retail customers. Companies will be encouraged to aggressively compete outside of their traditional service areas, and be penalized if they do not do so. Electric providers are therefore incentivized to lower rates and compete for customers outside of their normal territory.

Additionally, customers who currently pay a standard rate (called the “price-to-beat” rate — the highest rates in the state) must be switched to a lower-cost rate plan. If a new plan is not chosen within a certain time period, the provider will choose a lower-cost plan for the customer.

King’s release relates in addition to lowering rates, the bill also protects customers in two ways. First, providers will not be allowed to cut off power during the hot summer months, even if customers cannot pay their utility bills. Second, the bill puts in place incentives for wind generation, which works towards decreasing pollution and improving air quality.

According to King, new proposals addressing power concerns are in the works.

“Next week we hope to pass out additional legislation to further prevent companies from manipulating electric prices and a third bill to open the door for new nuclear plants which will provide clean, low cost electricity,” he said.