There are several bills working their way through the Texas House and Senate which are likely to send your utility bills up.
The House just approved a bill that would allow electric utilities to raise rates to pay for projects like building electric poles and wires — without first getting approval for those increases from state regulators, as is customary now. The Senate has already passed a slightly different version.
Similar legislation on the gas side is pending in both the House and Senate; it would streamline the rate-raising process for those utilities, which help heat Texas homes.
Currently, if utility companies like Dallas-based Oncor or Houston-based Centerpoint want to raise rates to pay for building electric lines, they go ahead and build them — and later ask the Public Utility Commission for permission to get their money back from consumers through a rate increase. The bill would allow the utilities to go ahead, build and raise rates — without going through a long and contentious process at the Public Utility Commission before the rate increase.
Keep in mind that this will not have an impact on your electricity rate, but it will cause your delivery fees to climb without notice. Delivery fees are a separate line item on your electric bill. It is a pass-through charge that your electricity provider has no control over. The fees are charged by the company that owns and operates the electricity poles and lines in your area. For example, Oncor delivers all of the electricity to Dallas residents and businesses, whereas CenterPoint delivers all of Houston’s electricity.