By B.N. Frank
California utilities recently asked that ratepayers pay billions for wildfire safety costs. Now Texas utilities are asking that ratepayers pay to “weatherize their facilities to withstand future freezes.”
From Houston Chronicle:
‘Here we go again’: Texas power companies seek to shift storm prep costs onto consumers
Thanks to skyrocketing energy costs during the February freeze that paralyzed the state and killed hundreds of people, Texans will be paying billions of dollars in higher gas and electric bills for decades. Now, energy companies are asking to pass on millions, even billions in additional storm-related costs to state ratepayers.
Last month, Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law new rules intended to strengthen an energy grid that failed Texans during a week of sub-freezing temperatures. “Bottom line is that everything that needed to be done was done to fix the power grid in Texas,” he said at the time.
A major component of Senate Bill 3 was a requirement that electric companies weatherize their facilities to withstand future freezes — something lawmakers failed to do following a 2011 winter storm that resulted in rolling blackouts when power equipment froze.
Yet the new law didn’t include any direction on who should pay for the upgrades. In recent filings with the Public Utility Commission of Texas, several large electric generation companies have said that citizens — not the investor-owned companies themselves — should cover the cost of weather-proofing their equipment.
Because the new requirements “represent a societal judgment that mandates an additional investment in additional extreme weather conditions,” it only makes sense that the public pick up that cost, Calpine Corporation, a large Houston-based electricity generation company, wrote in a filing late last month.
FAILURES OF POWER
Hearst Newspapers documented how 20 million Texans lost power in a deadly freeze after state lawmakers brushed aside a decade of warnings about the increasingly vulnerable electric grid.
Read the series at www.houstonchronicle.com/failures-of-power.
FAILURES OF POWER: Texas politicians knowingly blew 3 chances to fix the failing power grid
Having to shoulder the weatherization fixes themselves could also backfire, making the Texas grid less reliable, the companies warned.
Absorbing the costs might cause some companies to become uncompetitive in the cutthroat Texas energy market, which would force them to take generation facilities offline, thus decreasing the grid’s overall reliability, warned Texas Competitive Power Advocates, which represents electric generation companies. “Companies without cost recovery will be forced to decide whether to invest in capital improvements or to retire or seasonally mothball those marginal units,” it said in a filing.
Ratepayer advocates said it was outrageous to ask ordinary Texans to pay essential business costs on behalf of the same electric companies that contributed to the grid’s near collapse four months ago by failing to properly prepare their equipment.
“Here we go again,” said Tim Morstad, associate state director of AARP Texas. “Private power companies that pocket profits during good times now seek to pad a fee onto ratepayer bills to pay for improvements they should have made long ago.”
With the billions in storm-related costs consumers are already having to pay, “We’re into our great-grandchildren already,” added Jim Boyle, the state’s former Public Utility Counsel, who represents consumers in utility matters. “How many times do we have to take a hit?”
Makes you wonder what costs your utility is trying to pass on to you, doesn’t it.
Back to Texas utility shenanigans, last month:
- Utility companies remotely controlling “Smart” thermostats installed inside customers’ homes led to uncomfortably warm conditions.
- A hacker revealed that data collected by utility companies’ electric “Smart” Meters could expose what infrastructure was protected (and what wasn’t) during the devastating February Texas snowstorm.
Of course, ongoing and increasing opposition to utility “Smart” Meters (electric, gas, and water) and “Smart” Grids is worldwide due to rate increases for installation and frequent replacement (sometimes referred to as “upgrading”), privacy violations, fires (see 1, 2, 3), explosions, and other health and safety issues (see 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12). Some utilities allow customers to “opt out” because of complaints and lawsuits (see 1, 2, 3).
Activist Post reports regularly about “Smart” Meters and Grids as well as other unsafe technology. For more information, visit our archives and the following websites:
- Coalition to Stop Smart Meters
- EMF Safety Network
- Smart Meter Harm
- Smart Grid Awareness
- Smart Meter News
- Smart Meter Education Network
- Take Back Your Power
- The People’s Initiative
- Wireless Information Network
- Electromagnetic Radiation Safety
- Environmental Health Trust
- Physicians for Safe Technology
- Wireless Information Network
Provide, Protect and Profit from what’s coming! Get a free issue of Counter Markets today.