Seeking lower electricity rates, residents in two East Texas towns hope the state will intervene
Livingston and Jasper residents hope a lawsuit will force their municipality-operated utility company to offer lower rates and create more transparency in setting rates. They’re among the 5 million Texans living outside the state’s deregulated market and cannot choose their energy provider.
State agency that oversees Texas power grid needs more money to do its job, Sunset Commission finds
The Public Utility Commission has about 200 employees but needs more to handle shoring up the state power grid and tackling an expanded list of regulatory duties, according to the state Sunset Advisory Commission.
KPRC 2 Investigates why your cell phone bill might be going up next month
Your phone bills - both cell service and landlines - may be going up next month, thanks to a fee increase passed by the Public Utility Commission in July. Many of you were emailing to ask about this, concerned about just how high your bills may go.
‘Lights will stay on’: ERCOT, PUC confident in Texas power grid during 2022 summer season
Officials with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas and the Public Utility Commission will hold a press conference to discuss the readiness of the Texas power grid for the 2022 summer season, according to a release.
Analysis: A power test for Texas voters
After last winter’s near-statewide electric blackouts, Texas lawmakers went after regulators they deemed responsible but tiptoed around the Texas Railroad Commission, which regulates oil and gas. Now voters have a chance, if they want it, to send the state a message.
ERCOT will have to release information about power plant outages quicker — but it may not detail what causes them
The Public Utility Commission said the state's main power grid operator will have three days — instead of 60 — to release some information about power plant outages. But that may not include why the electricity generators were offline.
Texas House targets power grid flaw that cut electricity to natural gas facilities and worsened February blackouts
Texas lawmakers want to prevent another power crisis. But the legislation doesn't go far enough to do that, critics say
Lawmakers are trying to prevent another power grid failure like the one that occurred during last month's deadly winter storm. Both the Texas Senate and House have written bills that attempt to prevent another massive power failure in extreme temperatures. House Bill 11, sponsored by State Rep. Chris Paddie, R-Marshall, was part of a package of bills that the lower chamber preliminarily approved Tuesday. “It doesn’t go far enough to truly protect Texans from the next winter weather calamity,” Jacoby said during a committee hearing on the bill on March 18. “Under this definition of an extreme weather emergency, these mandates would not apply,” Jacoby said during the committee meeting.
After House stalls on readjusting electricity prices, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick urges Gov. Greg Abbott to use emergency powers
Greg Abbott to take executive action on reversing billions of dollars in charges for wholesale electricity during last month’s deadly winter storm after the Texas House adjourned for the week without taking up the issue. “The governor of Texas is a very powerful person,” Patrick said at a Capitol news conference, ramping up his dayslong campaign to get Abbott to intervene. And, while the bill was referred to a House committee Thursday morning, the House gaveled out until Monday afternoon. And included in the legislation was a March 20 deadline for the Public Utility Commission, which oversees ERCOT, to take action to reverse such charges. “The House said they wanted more time -- that would give them more time,” Patrick said.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick focuses scorn on Public Utility Commission after winter storm, testing Gov. Greg Abbott
Greg Abbott has worked to lay blame squarely on the state’s electrical-grid operator — despite the fact that it is overseen by the Abbott-appointed Public Utility Commission. Last week, Patrick called for the resignation of the PUC chair at the time, DeAnn Walker — and hours later, she called it quits. In a Friday evening statement, Patrick called on Abbott to “intercede” and replace D’Andrea, daring the governor to abandon his 9-day-old appointee. Abbott had already called on ERCOT leadership to resign but had not said anything about the PUC. In his Friday evening statement, Patrick asked Abbott to “replace Mr. D’Andrea on the PUC when he fills the other two vacancies there.”“Mr.
Lawmakers demanding answers over multi-billion dollar billing error during winter storm
AUSTIN, Texas – The demands of lawmakers are growing louder when it comes to addressing what some call a multi-billion-dollar billing error. The dispute involves energy prices charged during the winter storm. He also said certain markets had settled, and retroactively changing energy prices could create ripple effects with dire financial consequences. He also balked at the assertion that energy providers would pass on their financial losses to customers in terms of rate hikes. He said Texas’ market is easy to enter and and there are plenty of providers willing to compete for business.
Texas utility regulator says ERCOT overcharged power companies by far less than $16 billion cited by watchdog group
Credit: Sergio Flores for The Texas TribuneThe state’s energy grid operator overcharged power companies by roughly $3 billion after the winter storm, the chairman of Texas’ utility regulator said Thursday, pushing back on a previous report from an agency watchdog that said the companies were overcharged by $16 billion. But a letter submitted Thursday by Potomac Economics repeated that ERCOT overcharged companies by $16 billion. AdIt is still unclear whether and how this overcharge directly affects Texas electricity customers, however many power companies have taken a significant financial hit. In Texas, wholesale power prices are determined by supply and demand: When demand is high, ERCOT allows prices to go up. During the storm, the PUC directed the grid operator to set wholesale power prices at $9,000 per megawatt-hour — the maximum price.
Abbott names ERCOT billing error correction as emergency legislative item
(AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)AUSTIN, Texas – Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has declared the correction of any billion-dollar errors related to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas as an emergency item for the 87th Legislative Session, according to a release. The emergency items include any inaccurate excessive charges or any issues regarding additional service prices after February’s deadly winter storm in Texas. In Texas, wholesale power prices are determined by supply and demand: When demand is high, ERCOT allows prices to go up. During the storm, PUC directed the grid operator to set wholesale power prices at $9,000 per megawatt-hour -- the maximum price.
Commissioner Shelly Botkin resigns from Public Utility Commission of Texas after winter storm
HOUSTON – Shelly Botkin joins a long list of commissioners who have resigned from their roles with the Public Utility Commission of Texas, the agency that regulates the state’s electric, telecommunication, and water and sewer utilities, after the deadly winter storm in February. Botkin turned in her resignation Monday, which was effective immediately. READ: Public Utility Commission chair resigns after Texas officials criticize management of power outagesShe was appointed by Gov. Greg Abbott on June 11, 2018, to serve as a commissioner on the PUC, for a term set to expire on Sept. 1, 2025, according to the Public Utility Commission. Prior to being appointed, Botkins worked for ERCOT as director of corporate communications and government relations.
Texas will not fix ERCOT’s $16 billion power billing mistake
“I totally get how it looks like you’re protecting consumers [by readjusting electric prices],” D’Andrea said Friday during a PUC meeting. In Texas, wholesale power prices are determined by supply and demand: When demand is high, ERCOT allows prices to go up. During the storm, PUC directed the grid operator to set wholesale power prices at $9,000 per megawatt hour — the maximum price. Raising prices is intended to incentivize power generators in the state to add more power to the grid. Companies then buy power from the wholesale market to deliver to consumers, which they are contractually obligated to do.
Lt. Gov. calls for resignations of top ERCOT, PUC officials after devastating winter storm
Ad“Both the PUC Chair and ERCOT CEO said they were prepared the day before the storm hit in full force, but obviously they were not. ERCOT CEO Bill Magness testified the information was not delivered to him – a critical failure of Magness’ team. “Both the Chairman and CEO publicly testified they had informed state leadership, including me, about the seriousness of the winter storm. Ad“I do not make this call for the resignation of the PUC Chair and the ERCOT CEO lightly. “The investigation into what happened during the winter storm crisis is just beginning.
Another ERCOT board member resigns as lawmakers criticize power grid operator for massive electricity outages
After the near-collapse of the state's power grid, seven board members of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas have resigned. Another Electric Reliability Council of Texas board member has resigned after a winter storm caused the near-collapse of the state’s power grid. Clifton Karnei, executive vice president of Brazos Electric Power Cooperative, is the seventh board member of the state’s power grid operator to quit this week. Unlike Karnei, the other board members who resigned this week reside outside of Texas. “The PUC was non-existent.”The other board members who resigned this week did so at an ERCOT board meeting on Wednesday.
What you need to know if you are worried about receiving an astronomical water bill
HOUSTON – With so many pipes busted during the storm, a lot of families are scared their next water bill will be sky high, but some customers might not have to pay the full amount. “Water everywhere, water just dripping down.”Gochman is not sure how much water or how long her pipes had been leaking before her ceiling collapsed, but she is concerned about the amount of her monthly water bill. According to the city of Houston’s Director of Public Works, Gochman and others like her should not panic. “Don’t’ stress we are going to encourage you to pay the same amount you paid for your last bill in January,” she said. After that, contact the number at the bottom of your water bill and ask how you can get the information to them.
Top board leaders resign after deadly Texas power outages
AdFour of the departing board members acknowledged “concerns about out-of-state board leadership" in a letter to grid members and the state's Public Utility Commission, which oversees ERCOT. The board members did not reflect on their own performance in the letter. The other board members are vice chairman Peter Cramton, Terry Bulger and Raymond Hepper. The selection of “unaffiliated” ERCOT board members — like most of those who are resigning — must be approved by the PUC. Hepper also declined comment beyond the resignation letter, and other board members did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Analysis: Texas tries to make the connections on broadband internet
Greg Abbott’s list of priorities, the call for broadband internet might be the most popular in the state Legislature. And a related telecommunications dispute at the Public Utility Commission is tied up in court, potentially threatening phone service in some rural areas of the state and with it, access to broadband internet. But those subsidies have been dwindling, which could make it more difficult to get broadband internet service to customers in those areas. The state fund is for phone service — not internet. “To further expand access to high-speed internet and cultivate prosperity for the state, Texas should support the creation of a state broadband plan, authorize a broadband office within the Economic Development and Tourism Office and eliminate barriers to provide greater access to broadband services,” he wrote.
5 things for Houstonians to know for Friday, August 28
Here are things you need to know for Friday, August 28:1. 6 deaths in Louisiana tied to Hurricane LauraLouisiana officials now know of 6 deaths tied to Hurricane Laura. President Donald Trump says hell visit Texas to survey damagePresident Donald Trump is planning to visit Texas this weekend in the wake of Hurricane Laura. On the digital chalk board, she asked students to put their name and preferred pronoun in the chatbox. 3 things to shareWORD OF THE DAY:Whinge: [ hwinj, winj ] (verb) to complain; whine.
Nearly 600K Texans will lose access to a program that prevented electricity shut-offs during pandemic on Oct. 1
On Oct. 1, Texans who were previously protected by a state program blocking utility disconnections during the coronavirus pandemic, could again be at risk of having their lights shut off because they cant pay their bills. Advocates and users criticized the program for being difficult to register for and being advantageous to utility providers, rather than consumers. Customers will only be required to pay what hasnt already been offset by discounts given to energy providers as a result of the program. Texans receiving unemployment relief are also eligible to register for the program until then. In total, about 3.3 million Texans have applied for unemployment relief benefits since mid-March.
Analysis: Funding for rural broadband in Texas is in trouble. The pandemic might save it.
Phone companies and some rural state legislators are asking utility regulators to increase the tax on interstate telecommunications services that fills the Texas Universal Service Fund. TUSF, the high-cost and small and rural programs in particular, is what has given the opportunity for small and rural telecommunications providers to build and maintain the foundational network platform that allows rural Texas to remain connected. Before, but certainly with the current pandemic crisis, these small rural telecommunications carriers have stepped up to help provide the critical services needed as our citizens face a more online environment. By March 2019, the PUC staff wrote, the fund was falling short by $5 million to $7 million per month. The idea in rural Texas was that the hardest-to-reach customers the most expensive ones wouldnt get service at affordable rates and that the fund could subsidize them.