Electricity Deregulation in Texas
Deregulation means that consumers have a choice of their generation electricity supplier (referred to as Retail Electric Providers or REPs). There are hundreds of licensed REPs to choose from in the State of Texas. Some of the more common ones are Reliant, Gexa, Direct Energy, TXU, and Constellation. No matter who you choose, your geographic location determines who your Transmission and Distribution Service Provider (TDSP) is. These are also referred to as the Local Utility or Local Wires Company. The TDSPs (depicted in color on the map), transmit electricity from the generation plant to your home, install and read the meters and are responsible for maintaining and repairing equipment during outages. In most cities in Texas, the TDSPs also own and maintain the streetlights that cities pay for.
Even though it looks like less than half the state is deregulated, these areas cover some of the most populous parts of the state. For the areas in white (many of which are rural), a more accurate description would be that some of it is regulated and some of it is unregulated (will explain those in a minute).
The five TDSPs are:
Oncor (formerly TXU Electric, Texas Power & Light and TXU SESCO): serves Dallas-Ft. Worth, Central Texas (including Waco) and some parts of West Texas
CenterPoint (aka CNP, formerly Houston Power & Light): serves Houston area
AEP Texas Central (formerly Central Power & Light): serves Corpus Christi and deep South Texas (commonly referred to as “The Valley”)
AEP Texas North: serves Abilene, San Angelo, North Central and West Texas
Texas New Mexico Power (aka TNMP): serves small areas of Central Texas, North Texas and West Texas
There are a handful of cities that are split between two TDSPs (ex: Galveston has TNMP and CNP; Lewisville is in Oncor and TNMP) and there are also some cities where part of the city is in a deregulated area and part is not (ex: Austin – a vast majority of the city is served by Austin Energy which is owned by the City, but there’s a very small portion of the city that falls within Oncor’s service area).
The areas in white in the map above include three categories:
-Regulated, Investor-Owned Utilities (IOUs)
-Municipally-Owned Utilities (Munis)
-Electric Cooperatives (Co-ops)
The regulated IOUs are fully regulated by the Texas Public Utility Commission (PUC or PUCT) like the TDSPs are REPs are. The PUC is an agency of the State that regulates electric, water and telecommunications utilities. https://www.puc.texas.gov/
Regulated IOUs include Entergy Texas (Beaumont area), AEP SWEPCO (parts of East TX and Panhandle), Xcel Energy (parts of Panhandle) and El Paso Electric (El Paso and the rest of the far West area of TX). PUC Regulation is important because those utilities have a standard set of rules to follow, that are approved and monitored by the PUC, and customers have protection against unfair/inaccurate billing. For example, if a customer finds they’ve been overbilled and after reaching out to the utility they can’t get a satisfactory resolution, the customer can file a complaint with the PUC and request assistance in getting the overcharge refunded.
Munis and Co-ops are regulated by a board of directors instead of the PUC. See “Coop and Muni FAQs” from the PUC. Unlike the regulated IOUs, REPs, and TDSPs, the PUC has very little to no regulation over the practices and actions on Munis and Co-ops. We’ve encountered a couple instances when we found billing errors for a client billed by a Muni or Co-op, and the utility refused to correct the error or just flat out ignored our claim. Without a regulatory agency to enforce rules and ensure consumers are treated fairly, there’s no standard process to escalate a claim if these utilities don’t do what they’re supposed to do. Their Board of Directors “regulates” the utility, but there’s no oversight by an outside agency so Munis and Co-ops may not always be inclined to do the right thing.
Other Deregulated States
Per the U.S. Energy Information Administration Status of Electricity Restructuring by State.
Most states have a regulatory agency that oversees the regulated utilities in that state. In Texas, the Public Utility Commission "regulates the state's electric, telecommunication, and water and sewer utilities, implements respective legislation, and offers customer assistance in resolving consumer complaints." If you are unable to resolve a billing dispute with your utility company, the PUCT will act as an arbitrator. Other states have similar agencies that go by various names. Below is a list of some of the regulatory agencies in the U.S.
|State Agency||Complaint Number||In-State Toll-Free Number||Website|
|Alabama Public Service Commission||(334) 242-5211||(800) 392-8050||http://www.psc.state.al.us/|
|Alaska Public Utilities Commission||(907) 276-6222||(800) 390-2782||http://rca.alaska.gov/|
|Arizona Corporation Commission||(602) 542-4251||(800) 222-7000||http://www.azcc.gov/|
|Arkansas Public Service Commission||(501) 682-0390||(800) 482-1164||http://www.arkansas.gov/psc/|
|California Public Utilities Commission||(415) 703-1170||(800) 649-7570||http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/|
|Colorado Public Utilities Commission||(303) 894-2070||(800) 456-0858||https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/dora/puc|
|Connecticut Department of Public Utility Control||(860) 827-1553||(800) 382-4586||http://www.ct.gov/pura/site/default.asp|
|Delaware Public Service Commission||(302) 739-2613||(800) 282-8574||http://depsc.delaware.gov/|
|District of Columbia Public Service Commission||(202) 626-5120||N/A||http://www.dcpsc.org/|
|Florida Public Service Commission||(850) 413-6100||(800) 342-3552||http://www.psc.state.fl.us/|
|Georgia Public Service Commission||(404) 656-4537||(800) 282-5813||http://www.psc.state.ga.us/|
|Hawaii Public Utilities Commission||(800) 974-4000||http://puc.hawaii.gov/|
|Idaho Public Utilities Commission||(208) 334-0369||(800) 432-0369||http://www.puc.idaho.gov/|
|Illinois Commerce Commission||(217) 782-2024||(800) 524-0795||https://www.icc.illinois.gov/|
|Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission||(317) 232-2714||(800) 851-4268||http://www.in.gov/iurc/|
|Iowa Utilities Board||(515) 725-7300||(877) 565-4450||https://iub.iowa.gov/|
|Kansas State Corporation Commission||(785) 271-3140||(800) 662-0027||http://www.kcc.state.ks.us/|
|Kentucky Public Service Commission||(502) 564-3940||(800) 772-4636||http://psc.ky.gov/|
|Louisiana Public Service Commission||N/A||(800) 256-2397||http://www.lpsc.louisiana.gov/|
|Maine Public Utilities Commission||(207) 287-3831||(800) 452-4699||http://www.maine.gov/mpuc/|
|Maryland Public Service Commission||(410) 767-8028||(800) 492-0474||http://www.psc.state.md.us/|
|Massachusetts Department of Telecom. & Cable||(617) 305-3531||(800) 392-6066||http://www.mass.gov/ocabr/government/oca-agencies/dtc-lp/|
|Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU)||http://www.mass.gov/eea/grants-and-tech-assistance/guidance-technical-assistance/agencies-and-divisions/dpu/|
|Michigan Public Service Commission||N/A||(800) 292-9555||http://www.michigan.gov/mpsc/|
|Minnesota Public Utilities Commission||(651) 296-0406||(800) 657-3782||http://mn.gov/puc/|
|Mississippi Public Service Commission||(601) 961-5450||http://www.psc.state.ms.us/|
|Missouri Public Service Commission||(573) 751-3160||(800) 392-4211||https://psc.mo.gov/|
|Montana Public Service Commission||(406) 444-6150||(800) 646-6150||http://www.psc.mt.gov/|
|Nebraska Public Service Commission||(402) 471-0238||(800) 526-0017||http://www.psc.nebraska.gov/|
|Nevada Public Utilities Commission||(775) 684-6100||(800) 992-0900||http://puc.nv.gov/|
|New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission||(603) 271-2431||(800) 852-3793||http://www.puc.state.nh.us/|
|New Jersey Board of Public Utilities||(800) 624-0241||(800) 624-0241||http://www.bpu.state.nj.us/|
|New Mexico Public Regulation Commission||(505) 827-4592||(888) 427-5772||http://www.nmprc.state.nm.us/|
|New York State Public Service Commission||(518) 474-3280||(800) 342-3377||http://www.dps.ny.gov/|
|North Carolina Utilities Commission||(919) 733-9277||N/A||http://www.ncuc.commerce.state.nc.us/|
|North Dakota Public Service Commission||(877) 245-6685||http://www.psc.nd.gov/|
|Ohio Public Utilities Commission||(614) 466-3292||(800) 686-7826||http://www.puco.ohio.gov/puco/|
|Oklahoma Corporation Commission||(405) 521-4114||(800) 522-8154||http://www.occeweb.com/|
|Oregon Public Utility Commission||(503) 378-6600||(800) 522-2404||http://www.puc.state.or.us/Pages/Index.aspx|
|Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission||(717) 783-1661||(800) 782-1110||http://www.puc.state.pa.us/|
|Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission||N/A||N/A||http://www.ripuc.org/|
|South Carolina Public Service Commission||(803) 737-5230||(800) 922-1531||http://www.psc.sc.gov/Pages/default.aspx|
|South Dakota Public Utilities Commission||(605) 773-5810||(800) 332-1782||https://puc.sd.gov/|
|Tennessee Regulatory Authority||(615) 741-2904||(800) 342-8359||https://www.tn.gov/tra/|
|Texas Public Utility Commission||(512) 936-7120||(888) 782-8477||http://www.puc.texas.gov/|
|Utah Public Service Commission||(801) 530-6652||(800) 874-0904||http://www.psc.state.ut.us/|
|Vermont Public Service Board||(802) 828-2332||(800) 622-4496||http://psb.vermont.gov/|
|Virginia State Corporation Commission||N/A||(800) 552-7945||https://www.scc.virginia.gov/SCC-INTERNET/power/index.aspx|
|Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission||(360) 664-1120||(888) 333-9882||http://www.utc.wa.gov/Pages/default.aspx|
|West Virginia Public Service Commission||(800) 642-8544||(800) 344-5113||http://www.psc.state.wv.us/|
|Wisconsin Public Service Commission||(608) 266-2001||(800) 225-7729||http://psc.wi.gov/|
|Wyoming Public Service Commission||(307) 777-7427||(888) 570 -9905||http://psc.state.wy.us/|
Texas: Electric Tariffs
Each TDSP has a tariff of rules and regulations they follow. The tariffs are valuable resources when verifying billing discrepancies. Below is a link to Rates & Tariffs from the PUCT website.
Power to Choose
In Texas, you can choose your REP and electricity plan if you are in a deregulated area. For an accurate listing of current rates and to sign up for new service, visit the Power to Choose website.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission regulates electricity, gas, and oil at the federal level.
The U.S. Energy Information Association provides unbiased statistics and information on electricity, natural gas and other energy markets.