Business

Report: Texas Electricity Consumers Face Too Many Hidden Fees

A consumer advocacy group recommends regulators do more to help consumers choose the right electricity plan.

The Power To Choose website is run by the state’s Public Utility Commission.

Texans looking to choose their electricity provider often go to the Power to Choose website run by the state’s Public Utility Commission. It’s meant to help consumers find the right electricity plan for them, but a report by Texas ROSE, an energy consumer advocacy group, found it doesn’t do a good enough job of informing consumers about fees on top of the kilowatt-per-hour rate providers charge.

Pamela Ferris, the group’s executive director, said the site would be more informative “if there were a more standardized presentation and the even definition of the fees, so that if you have seven different fees that are similar you know you’re talking about the same thing.”

She said she has found outrageous disconnection fees, for example, and some fees that violate state law.

The report lists some examples of excessive fees:

  • Disconnection notice fees of up to $20.00 for a simple notice of disconnection sent to the customer;
  • Standard disconnection fees of up to $75.00 where the costs of actual disconnection by Transmission and Distribution utilities are recovered in charges of generally less than a dollar, but no more than $21.00; and
  • Standard reconnection fees of up to $50.00 where the costs of actual reconnection by Transmission and Distribution utilities (TDUs) are recovered in charges of generally less than a dollar but no more than $11.00.

PUC spokesman Andrew Barlow maintained the agency already tries to list all fees on its website, but said it’s always open to reviewing its methods.

“We’re constantly keeping our ears and eyes open for input from public utility customers and others that are in the conversation to make sure we’re doing the best that we can on behalf of Texas utility customers,” Barlow said.

Share

Florian Martin

Business Reporter

Florian Martin is currently the News 88.7 business reporter. Florian’s stories can frequently be heard on other public radio stations throughout Texas and on NPR nationwide. Some of them have earned him awards from Texas AP Broadcasters, the Houston Press Club, National Association of Real Estate Editors, and Public Radio...

More Information