Texas House Eyes Restructuring
Texas moved a step closer to a restructured electricity
marketplace Wednesday when the state Senate approved a bill to
deregulate electric utilities. The bill is now bound for the State
Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives. Hearings could
be held as early as March 29. Gov. George W. Bush has voiced his
support for electric deregulation.
The legislation would open most of the state's electric
utilities to competition - excluding municipally owned utilities
and rural electric cooperatives - beginning Jan. 1, 2002. Bill
sponsor Sen. David Sibley, R-Waco, said deregulation would save
consumers between $500 million and $800 million even if they don't
switch suppliers as legislation calls for a 5% rate cut when it
takes effect. Stranded cost recovery is prescribed through
securitization with bond debt being repaid through a transmission
surcharge. A similar bill failed to pass the Senate two years ago.
"This is the first time an electric deregulation bill has made
it out of either chamber," said Ray Palmer, president of NEV Texas,
subsidiary of energy service provider New Energy Ventures. "Texas
Senators went out of their way to observe the early workings of
other competitive markets first hand, which gave them the
opportunity to learn from the challenges already faced in those
states and build on the successes of those markets."
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