PBS' 'Inside E Street' Takes On the Broken Promises of Electric Deregulation in Texas

Categories: Biz

Some 10 years ago, commodities and energy company Enron led a successful lobbying effort to deregulate Texas electricity markets. A free-market, we were told, would foster competition, keep power prices low and improve customer service. Yet over the last decade, none of these promises have been kept. That's the subject of a recent episode of Inside E Street a PBS program that, sadly, doesn't air in our market. Happily, up above is the segment that deals with Texas' deregulation. Enjoy.

While power prices have fallen right alongside natural gas prices in the last couple of years. But cheaper utility bills have come at the expense of grid reliability. ERCOT predicts we won't have enough electricity by 2013 because no one is making enough money to build power plants. As we've reported before, they plan to remedy this by making electricity more expensive (check out last week's cover story for a lengthier discussion).

Over the course of deregulation, power prices have been on average nearly 9 percent higher than the national average. As Geoffrey Gay, general counsel for the Texas Coalition for Affordable Power, says in the above segment, we'd have saved $11 billion if we had simply remained at the national average.


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IES
IES

Contact your local PBS station and ask them to air Inside E Street!

texas54
texas54

Herein lies the stupidity of those who whine about monopolies and then knock deregulation because they are too lazy to search the market for competitive offers. Texas currently has some of the lowest electricity rates in the U.S., and do you really think Texas would lead the U.S. in wind production without deregulation? The folks in regulated areas in Texas, like co-ops would love to have a choice!

NotTheSuburbs
NotTheSuburbs

So you're saying that they would choose hgher prices and rolling blackouts when it's hot or cold?  Not so sure about that.  I wish I was still living in Garland with the relaible cheap GPL monopoly power.

Paul
Paul

 Great ... another shill for the deregulated power providers.

I also purchase power from an electric coop and a municipal utility ... they have been less expensive than what I purchase in the DFW area.

Before you make your statement about Texas having the lowest rates in the nation, go look up the data on the EIA website.  Texas is the only state which in 2011 had wholesale level power prices increase.

dallasphotog
dallasphotog

There's no money to update the grid because under deregulation, the shareholders have to be paid.  In a public utility, and they should all be public, profits are put back into the system and ideally not in other people's pockets.

james
james

once the modern day robber barons were let in on it, what did we expect? a dependable public utility like it used to be? run by filthy rich robber barons? in what fairy tale?

Steven
Steven

The "competition" deregulation created is just to see who can come up with the most byzantine billing terms.  Is anyone really better off now that we have to reassess our retail electric provider every few months?  It's still the same power distributed over the same lines.

Paul
Paul

 I read one contract and there were so many outs for the provider on both price and service that I really had no assurance or expectation that they would be providing power to me.

Of course, if I was one day late with payment ...

Could anyone please give me a solid argument why I should purchase electrical power from a company that has no installed generator capacity.

Thank goodness that I have natural gas service to my house, I am giving serious thought to a standby generator.

Paul
Paul

Just went to the EIA's website.  The have a graphic showing the changes in wholesale electric power rates at key locations across the country over 2011.

Everybody is down -1% to -10%, with most around -5%, except, drum roll please, the ERCOT Houston Zone which is up +51% ...

And of course the proponents of deregulation in Texas say we have "choice" ...

For those who are interested the link is:

http://www.eia.gov/electricity...

Mike
Mike

It works if you take advantage of opportunities. I have a renewable supplier at rates a lot less than what I paid before deregulation. Too many people make no effort to identify savings. That is their fault. If you are asleep at the switch in the 21st century, you lose. If more people shopped around and acted accordingly, it is likely rates would be lower still.

jfpo
jfpo

What good is any of that if the grid crashes?

Paul
Paul

I'm shocked, I'm shocked to find out that electric power deregulation has not worked for consumers in Texas and that none of the promised benefits have come true.

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