Energy & Environment

Report Finds “Mixed Results” From Electric Market Deregulation

The Texas Coalition for Affordable Power describes it as a “good news/bad news” report.

A view of power lines near Thompsons, TX, southwest of Houston.

A new report finds positive signs, but some “mixed results”, from deregulating the Texas electric market.

The consumer advocacy group Texas Coalition for Affordable Power used federal government data to track Texans’ electric bills since deregulation. The report says electricity has gotten cheaper in cities where you can choose your provider, but it’s still been historically more expensive compared to cities with one provider.

“I think it’s a good news/bad news story,” says R.A. Dyer, the group’s spokesperson. “I think the market is progressing.”

The good news from the report is that in places where you can shop around for electricity – like Houston and Dallas – you can find better deals than in San Antonio or Austin, where there’s one provider.

The bad news?

“What we have seen, year after year, is prices are consistently higher in areas of the state with retail electric competition,” Dyer says.

Still, the report found that gap is shrinking, and there are other positive signs. 

A separate study from Rice University – one that looked at different and more recent data – found that in 2016, some deregulated parts of Texas finally had cheaper electricity.

“Our prices in the state are very closely linked to the natural gas price,” says Michelle Fost, Chief Energy Economist at the University of Texas’ Center for Energy Economics.

So, as long as natural gas stays relatively cheap, you could expect the trend of ever-cheaper electricity in deregulated cities to continue.

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Travis Bubenik

Travis Bubenik

Energy & Environment Reporter

Travis Bubenik reports on the tangled intersections of energy and the environment in Houston and across Texas. A Houston native and proud Longhorn, he returned to the Bayou City after serving as the Morning Edition Host & Reporter for Marfa Public Radio in Far West Texas. Bubenik was previously the...

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