The Power to Complain: Texas Electricity Website Is Rigged

Thanks to Dave Fehling of Houston Public Media for this story on the Texas Public Utility Commission Power to Choose website. After 13 years the promise of lower electricity rates due to deregulation has never materialized for Texas consumers. The Power to Choose website was designed to allow consumers the ability to “Shop, Compare, and Choose” but has failed to do so.

The PUC has been collecting comments on how to improve their deceptive Power to Choose website. As many of the 100 comments have stated, the website does not truly compare the hundreds of plans available that are complicated with fees, gimmicks, rebates, and hidden charges. Even the Chairman of the PUC stated in the Texas Tribune article:

Donna Nelson, chairman of the Public Utility Commission, said Thursday at a public meeting. “They’ve [electricity resellers] got all these tricky little things in their prices, and whatever the fact sheets are called – the nutrition label – that makes it really difficult for customers.”

I was pleased to see that other individuals and organizations, including AARP Texas, has joined me in recommending true comparison of the plans available taking into consideration their historic kWh usage of their home coupled with the various plans, fees, and gimmicks. The PUC has access to consumer’s historical usage. They can easily take this information and perform the calculations for every plan and show how much each plan would truly cost. This would be a true and fairly accurate comparison based upon your specific usage. Currently the website does nothing more than displays the cost per kWh and some of the gimmicks for each company. This is not comparing.

“Give real comparisons of how much you will be paying each company,” said Cobarruvius. A PUC spokesperson told us that the commission is continuing to take consumer comments and will consider changes by sometime late this summer.

With historic lows in natural gas and the magic of deregulation championed by Ken Lay and Enron, it is about time the Public Utility Commission make good on their promises of lower electricity rates for consumers.

If you are interested, comments can be viewed and submitted here.

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