Text of State Senator Troy Fraser's (R-Horseshoe Bay) Opening Statement at Press Conference on Electricity Legislation:
(Note: Senator Fraser frequently deviates from prepared text.)
"Today I have filed 4 bills which will ensure the competitive electric market in Texas is working to help lower electric rates and encourage consumer choice of retail providers.
"In 1999, I was a co-author of Senate Bill 7... a bill passed by the Legislature to deregulate the electric market and allow electric providers to compete for customers in a free and open arena.
"Since the competitive market has opened Texas has been held up as the national model. Over two-thirds of the industrial and commercial customers have taken advantage of choice and have switched providers, lowering their costs. In addition, the market has sent the appropriate signals and new, efficient, clean generation has been constructed.
"While we hoped to witness similar gains on the residential side we have not seen the same success. Since the implementation of deregulation, approximately 30 percent of residential customers have switched electric providers but the number of switches has slowed over the last 12 months even in the face of record electric prices.
"This past November Chairman King and I held a joint hearing... during that hearing I expressed concerns that the legislation setting the price to beat allowed providers to raise retail prices as the wholesale price of electricity increased, but it left the Legislature and the PUC with the inability to lower those same prices as the wholesale price of electricity declined.
"The hope was that competitive forces would cause prices to come down, but that is not what we have witnessed in the residential market.
"In November I warned the electric providers that they needed to start competing outside of their territory, which would have caused prices to come down.
"I don't think they heard my concerns... so today I have filed these four bills which will continue the promise of a competitive market we made to the public in Senate Bill 7."
ATTACHMENT: Electric Bill Package Summary (PDF format)