Update: Texas PUC Issues Written Order Rejecting Petition To Initiate (Or Resume) Retail Electric Choice Pilot In Non-ERCOT Service Area
June 22, 2021 Email This Story Copyright 2010-21 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
Reporting by Paul Ring • email@example.com
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The Texas PUC has issued a written order rejecting a petition from East Texas Salt Water Disposal Company (ETSWD) for a declaratory order and request for the opening of a pilot retail electric choice implementation project at Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO)
As more fully described in our prior story (see extensive details here), East Texas Salt Water Disposal Company generally argued that a SWEPCO pilot unbundled service tariff adopted shortly after deregulation legislation was adopted remains in effect, and was not altered by a 2009 law pausing the transition to competition at SWEPCO (or any subsequent rate case). ETSWD alternatively asked the PUC to initiate a choice pilot at SWEPCO.
As reported earlier this month, the PUC rejected ETSWD's petition at an open meeting, but a written order with further details for the rejection has just been issued
The order states, "In 2000 the Commission initiated a customer-choice pilot project in SWEPCO's Texas service area to facilitate the utility's transition to competition. Participants in this pilot project were to take service under unbundled rates specified in a pilot-project tariff approved alongside the pilot project. The customer-choice pilot project was not a success. Consequently, in late 2001 the Commission delayed retail competition in SWEPCO's service area indefinitely and extended SWEPCO's pilot project. From 2002 through 2007 the Commission continued to delay retail competition and extend the pilot project while evaluating SWEPCO's readiness to transition."
The order states, "In 2009 the Texas Legislature enacted an amendment to PURA chapter 39 that directly addresses SWEPCO's transition to competition. This amendment expressly grants the Commission authority to initiate a new customer-choice pilot project in SWEPCO's service area. In 2010 the Commission approved a revised electric service delivery tariff for SWEPCO that did not include the pilot-project tariff pages. The revised electric service delivery tariffs for SWEPCO approved by the Commission in 2014 and 2018 also did not include the pilot-project tariff pages."
The order states, "This history demonstrates that SWEPCO's customer-choice pilot project and associated tariff are no longer in effect. Even if they were, it would not be possible for SWEPCO to provide service under the pilot-project tariff. The pilot-project tariff only permitted SWEPCO to collect wires charges; the tariff, by design, did not allow SWEPCO to collect charges for a customer's energy. Had SWEPCO's pilot-project been successful, electricity use charges would be collected by a retail electric provider operating in SWEPCO's service area. But the pilot-project was not successful and no retail electric providers operate in SWEPCO's service area."
The order states, "The Commission concludes SWEPCO's customer-choice pilot project and associated tariff are no longer in effect. Accordingly, SWEPCO cannot charge East Texas Salt Water for service under the pilot-project tariff. Furthermore, a declaratory order is not the proper mechanism to request the initiation of a new customer-choice pilot-project in SWEPCO's service area."
"For the reasons discussed in this Order, the Commission denies East Texas Salt Water's requested declarations and request to take service under the rates in SWEPCO's pilot-project tariff," the order states