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Home News-Telegram News PUC sides with Oncor in rate hike case, electric bills should rise 5%; policy reversal likely means all utilities will ask for higher rates

PUC sides with Oncor in rate hike case, electric bills should rise 5%; policy reversal likely means all utilities will ask for higher rates

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Texans who thought they got nailed on their last electricity bill have something else to think about now that the state agency charged with regulating such things has approved a rate increase request by the company that delivers power to homes and businesses.

Members of the Texas Public Utility Commission generally sided with Oncor’s rate change request, meaning electricity bills in the state will be going up about 5 percent.

Attorneys representing an association of cities — including Sulphur Springs — opposing Oncor’s rate case suggested the Public Utility Commission “did not discuss any issues that went in favor of ratepayers” when making a ruling on the rate hike.

Oncor had sought an increase in annual rates of $253 million. The Oncor Cities Steering Committee, representing a coalition of Texas municipalities opposing the rate hike, asked the PUC to do the opposite, recommending an overall reduction of $175 million.

Late Thursday, the PUC issued its decision, which attorneys with the law firm of Lloyd Gosselink in Austin were still tying to computer late Friday, according to a memo sent to Sulphur Springs City Manager Marc Maxwell and other municipalities in the coalition opposing the rate request.

“We are still in the process of calculating the impact of the PUC’s decision but initial indications are that the PUC granted Oncor an overall rate increase of approximately $130 million,” stated the memo from Geoffrey Gay, Thomas Brocato and Georgia Cromp with the law firm.

Oncor doesn’t sell electricity; rather, it is the company that owns all the utility poles and power lines. Oncor is charged with distributing electrical power to homes and businesses across the state. Oncor’s costs are about 2.32 cents per 1,000 kilowatt hours and are listed on consumers’ electrical bills issue by TXU and the other 100 or so electric utility service providers in the state.

“2.32 cents per kilowatt hour we’re paying right now is going to be closer to 3 cents,” explained Marc Maxwell shortly after receiving the message about 4:30 p.m. Friday.

That means an increase in electricity bills for all residential customers served by Oncor. At the current rates ranging from 8.9 center to 14.8 cents per kilowatt hour for electricity, Texans can expect to see their electricity bills increase between 4 and 6 percent.

But other measures approved by the PUC could have more impact.

Attorneys also noted the PUC decided not to adopt a consolidated tax savings adjustment, something the attorneys said was contrary to 15 years of “consistent PUC precedent” repeatedly affirmed by the courts.

“The impact of this decision is to allow the Company to recover approximately $90 million annually,” the memo stated. “Moreover, this policy reversal is likely to cause every utility in the state to seek higher rates.”

 

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