TX consumer complaints higher than before electric competition

October 2, 2013
Barbara Vergetis Lundin

For the fourth year in a row, Texas electric consumer complaints have fallen, putting them at the lowest point since the state's electric deregulation law took effect, according to an analysis of regulatory data by the Texas Coalition for Affordable Power (TCAP). However, the number of complaints is still higher than prior to electric competition -- 7,129 in fiscal year 2013.

Electricity-related complaints filed with the Texas Public Utility Commission have gone down nearly 17 percent from the 2012 fiscal year, and are less than half the number from a peak recorded in 2009. But despite the progress, Texas electricity consumers still file many more complaints on an annual average basis than they did prior to retail electric deregulation 11 years ago, according to the research.

"The decline in customer complaints comes as good news for Texas consumers, and may suggest that the market has matured since the inception of electric deregulation in 2002," said Dr. Randy Moravec, TCAP executive director. "However, Texans still file many more complaints today than they filed prior to electric competition. The data show continuing dissatisfaction relating to billing and customer service."

The decline follows a downward trend in Texas electricity prices, which is linked to changes in the commodity price of natural gas.

During the four years prior to deregulation, Texans filed significantly fewer complaints (1,316); after deregulation, 11,111 were filed, according to TCAP. Although population growth and the increased use of the Internet to facilitate the complaint process can explain some of the increase, it is unlikely that those factors alone account for the dramatic differences, TCAP says.

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