SENATOR HINOJOSA FILES SWEEPING ENERGY REFORM BILL TO BRING TRUE CHOICE TO TEXAS' ELECTRIC CONSUMERS
AUSTIN -- Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa filed a comprehensive reform bill, SB 444, Monday designed to lower electricity rates, strengthen consumer protections, provide customers a true choice in electric providers and restore the state's benefit fund for the elderly, the disabled, and other vulnerable Texans.
"I have heard from literally hundreds of constituents that electricity prices are skyrocketing out of their reach - so much so that they are having to choose between paying their rent or struggling to pay their energy bill," Senator Hinojosa said. "All consumers want is a fair price and to not have to wade through a confusing mess of rules and policies when they want to change their energy provider."
Senator Hinojosa, who recently helped secure a refund of $64 million for South Texas electric customers overcharged as a result of the deregulation of the electric market in 2002, said average residential rates throughout the state have skyrocketed.
Texas now has one of the highest rates in the nation. Deregulated electric rates are up by as much as 100 percent over the past five years, regardless of whether consumers have switched to new providers or not, Senator Hinojosa said.
Senator Hinojosa's proposed legislation will:
- Allow customers to freely switch electric companies without getting hit with excessive or hidden fees
- Prohibit electric companies from cutting off service to medically fragile Texans during periods of extreme heat or cold.
- Restore and protect Texas' System Benefit Fund for seniors and low-income families.
- Provide Texas with a market-driven Texas Energy Plan
- Encourage energy conservation
The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) endorsed Senator Hinojosa's efforts.
"AARP applauds Senator Hinojosa for giving hope to millions of Texans who have been stretched to the limit in paying their electric bills," said Bob Jackson, AARP Texas State Director. "It's time to own up to the fact that our experiment with deregulation has failed. Texans are much worse off today than they were five years ago. Our 2.2 million members are up in arms about it and are prepared to hold state leaders accountable for fixing this mess."
Senator Hinojosa said that deregulation of the Texas electric market has now been in place long enough to identify these problem areas and propose common-sense reforms to make sure consumers have adequate choices among providers and protections from unfair treatment.