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Energy & Environment

Houston’s Major Power Company Wants Electric Market Reforms

A Texas public utility commissioner describes the discussion as one about “improvements, enhancements and increased efficiency.”


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NRG’s W.A. Parish coal power plant in Fort Bend County

Houston’s major power company is pushing for electric market reforms.

The Texas Public Utility Commission is considering changes to the way electricity is priced in Texas. NRG is worried about how policies like subsidies for renewables are affecting that system.

Commissioner Kenneth Anderson laid out the issue at a public “workshop” this month.

“We’re not talking about a broken system here,” he said. “We’re talking about improvements, enhancements and increased efficiency.”

The PUC is looking at an independent study, funded by NRG, that suggests a number of reforms to fix issues that some say could hurt prices in the market over the long-term. That includes subsidies for wind and solar power.

“The suggestions in the report are to examine the impact that those subsidies and resources have on energy price, and whether we need to make changes to make sure there's an appropriate balance in how those energy prices are calculated,” says Bill Barnes, NRG's Director of Regulatory Affairs.

Barnes says other concerns include the way transmission costs are figured into pricing, and how the state grid operator has the power to pull in electricity from outside the Texas market if it feels it needs to.

The PUC is hoping to hold another workshop on the recommendations in October.

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