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March 12, 2007 (512) 463-0300

FRASER 'OUTRAGED' AT TXU MARKET POWER ABUSE

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Senator Troy Fraser decries TXU's market policy after an independent study reveals the utility company engaged in practices that constitute market abuse.

(AUSTIN) -- A study commissioned by the Public Utilities Commission showed market abuse and record profits from north Texas' TXU utility company, and that has one Senator looking at legislative power to address a lack of competition. Legislation passed in 2005 gave the PUC authority to hire an independent firm to look into the state of competition in the energy generation market. That firm released its findings Monday morning, saying TXU's efforts to manipulate the wholesale energy market in its region constitute market abuse. "I am personally outraged that TXU would intentionally manipulate prices in the wholesale market to create higher profits," said Senate Business and Commerce Committee Chairman Troy Fraser. "Consumers of this state deserve to be treated fairly, and for a company that delivers an essential service to millions of Texans, this behavior is unacceptable."

Monday's study revealed that TXU's practices have increased costs to rate payers by $70 million, and increased the company's profits by $19.6 million. TXU is currently in the middle of a multi-billion dollar sale process that would put the public utility in the hands of private investors. Fraser says he has crafted a bill that would give the PUC authority to allow or disallow this sale; a power that attorneys for the private investors say the state does not have. He added that he has two other bills that seek to improve competition in the residential market, and help alleviate the "stranglehold" that electric companies have over the energy market in Texas.

Governor Rick Perry's January executive order that would require girls in Texas to receive a controversial vaccine does not have the "weight of law" according to the Attorney General, said Senator Jane Nelson Monday. She said she met with AG Greg Abbott on Thursday to seek an informal opinion on the Governor's executive order requiring the Health and Human Services Commissioner to mandate vaccinations for the human pappillomavirus. Nelson said that Abbott's informal opinion was that the Governor's order could be viewed as a "friendly suggestion" and does not require HHS Commissioner Albert Hawkins to add the HPV vaccine to the list of required inoculations for state public schools. She added that the Health and Human Services Committee, which she chairs, is prepared to move forward on legislation relating to the HPV vaccine, now that legislators know where the Attorney General's office stands.

The Senate passed a bill Monday that would give Texans the right to use force against an intruder in their home, car or place of business. Bill author Senator Jeff Wentworth said that many Texans incorrectly believe that they already have this right, when current law mandates a person attempt to retreat from an intruder or aggressor. Senate Bill 378 removes this requirement for someone in a place they have a lawful right to be.

The Senate will reconvene Tuesday, March 13, at 11 a.m.

Session video and all other webcast recordings can be accessed from the Senate website's audio and video archive pages.

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