The Power to Lose. The failure of electricity deregulation

The Houston Chronicle summed up the Public Utility Commission’s PowerToChoose website perfectly:

Darla Jackson of Coppell, north of Dallas, wanted to change to her retail electricity company, but couldn’t face the prospect of using the state’s comparison shopping site, Powertochoose.org. Like many Texans, she felt overwhelmed by the number of companies, variety of plans and mind-numbing terms and conditions which, even after hours of study, left her confused, overwhelmed and uncertain of the best deal.

Last year the Commissioner, Donna Nelson, realized how incredibly deceptive their website can be and took action to update and improve it so consumers could actually compare prices when selecting an electricity billing company. According to the Texas Tribune:

Donna Nelson, chairman of the Public Utility Commission, said Thursday at a public meeting. “They’ve 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.”

Nelson started Project 45730 to receive comments from interested individuals on how to improve the website. After months of collecting information from 193 parties, the PUC responded with absolutely no changes to the website. In fact the gimmicks have become worse.

It is nearly impossible to make an informed decision based upon the information provided by the PowerToChoose.org. There are just too many gimmicks, fine print, and “gotchas” for the average consumer to wade through. The PUC knows this and yet have taken no action besides calling for suggestions and input from the community and then ignoring them. It was clearly a complete waste of time and resources. 

Especially mine. When it is time to select a new billing company, just remember who lobbied for deregulation on your behalf, Key Lay and Enron.

Enjoy.

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