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Regulators Approve Changes to State’s Electricity Shopping Website

The Public Utility Commission of Texas has criticized electric companies for offering confusing power plans on the website.

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

Texas regulators have approved changes to the state’s “Power to Choose” electricity shopping website, in an effort to make finding the right power plan less confusing.

When you’re shopping, you might come across electric plans that are pretty affordable if you stay below a certain power usage level, but come with big price spikes if you go over.

The Public Utility Commission has criticized those plans, and now says it will add a tool to the website allowing consumers to filter them out. Power companies will also now be prevented from flooding the website with what the commission calls “barely distinguishable” plans.

At a Thursday meeting, PUC Chair DeAnn Walker said the commission will probably take up the issue again, as companies try to skirt the changes.

“I had a [power company] visit with me yesterday saying that people are already trying to figure out how to get around these,” she said. “So, you know, they adjust and it is what it is.”

Commissioner Arthur D’Andrea said he hadn’t heard “any whining or criticism” about the changes, but that he hoped the commission’s staff would work on longer-term changes to avoid the issue coming up again.

“We’ve been here before. The commission thought we fixed this website, and now here we are again,” he said. “If two years from now, none of those things work, then I think we need to reconsider the wisdom of a government agency running a commercial website.”

Walker suggested that state lawmakers might look into the issue in the upcoming legislative session.

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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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