On September 15, the staff of the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) filed a draft (Project No. 45635) of the 2017 Report on the Scope of Competition in Electric Markets in Texas for review by the commission at its September 22 open meeting.
The report is intended to provide the members of the 85th Texas Legislature with an overview of the current status of competitive retail and wholesale electric markets throughout the Lone Star State – including a summary of major PUCT decisions over the past two years.
According to the draft, the Texas competitive energy market now comprises 5,958,547 residential customers, 6,892,570 commercial customers, and 9,525 industrial customers.
On average, residential retail rates across Texas have slightly decreased, in comparison to 2014 and 2015, declining to approximately 11.10 cents/kilowatt-hour (kWh) in June 2016 from an average of 11.64 cents/kWh in 2015, and 11.86 cents/kWh in 2014. Residential prices in the state continue to trend lower than nationwide averages of 12.67 cents/kWh in 2015 and 12.52 cents/kWh in 2014, the staff said.
The authors of the report noted that the number and diversity of retail energy providers (REPs) competing for customers provides an indicator of the health of the retail market. In the past two years since the publication of the 2015 Scope of Competition in Electric Markets Report, the number of REPs and competitive offers has remained stable, they stated.
As of August 2016, 109 REPs were operating in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) region of Texas; and over 400 products with 100 percent renewable content were available. In the portion of the state that is open to customer choice, 92 percent of all customers had exercised their ability to switch providers.
“Texas continues to be recognized as the most successful competitive retail market in North America,” the report claimed, as demonstrated by its first-place rank for the past eight years in the Annual Baseline Assessment of Choice in Canada and the United States – a scorecard that compares the retail competitiveness of electric markets in the U.S. states and Canadian provinces.
Overall, the report highlights the impact of competition on rates, customer protection and complaint issues, oversight and enforcement action, and noteworthy commission activities. The report concludes with legislative recommendations that may facilitate continued efficiency and promote the PUCT’s objectives of providing high-quality electric service to Texans.