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June 18, 2002     (512) 463-0300

Electric Deregulation Committee Looks At How A Free Electric Market Works

The Electric Utility Restructuring Legislative Oversight Committee continues to monitor the progress of the deregulation of the electric industry in Texas. At today's meeting, June 18, 2002, Co-chairman Steven Wolens said he was now more optimistic that the process was on track, despite problems with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) at the previous meeting. ERCOT is the organization charged with ensuring the smooth transition to a deregulated electric market and the proper distribution of electricity around the state.

Wolens said that the games that energy traders such as the now-bankrupt Enron played in California would not happen here. On the other hand, he blasted Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) for not allowing Jack Hawks, board member of ERCOT and a PG&E official, to testify. Co-chairman Senator Troy Fraser said that the hearings sometimes focus too much on what doesn't work, and should reflect more on the progress that has been made.

Sam Jones of ERCOT said that some changes in the organization's board may need to be made as the electric market is deregulated. Monte Jones described the duties and responsibilities of a board member.

During the afternoon session, the committee returned to hear from representatives of the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC). Parviz Adib, Director of the Market Oversight Division of PUC, assured the members that Texans will not experience the problems suffered by Californians when the electric market was deregulated there. Other questions to Rebecca Klein and Brett Perlman, also of the PUC, centered on how electricity will be shuttled around the various state power grids to ensure that there will be no shortage of supply.

The Electric Utility Restructuring Legislative Oversight Committee is co-chaired by Senator Troy Fraser and Representative Steven Wolens. Members include Senators Teel Bivins, Frank Madla, Jane Nelson and John Whitmire, as well as Representatives Kim Brimer, David Counts, Debra Danburg and Sylvester Turner. The Committee recessed subject to call of the chair, with its next meeting at a time and place to be announced at a later date.

You can access the archived video webcast from the Senate's web page of the Electric Utility Restructuring Legislative Oversight Committee.

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