Electric consumer complaints have dropped for the fourth consecutive year in Texas and are at the lowest level so far under the state’s electric deregulation law, according to a newly released analysis of regulatory data by the Texas Coalition for Affordable Power.
“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, the coalition’s executive director, commenting in a news release.
“However, Texans still file many more complaints today than they filed prior to electric competition,” said Moravec, adding that data show ongoing customer dissatisfaction regarding billing and customer service.
Electricity-related complaints filed with the Texas Public Utility Commission have declined nearly 17 percent from the 2012 fiscal year, and are less than half the number from a peak recorded in 2009, the coalition said.
Yet Texas electricity consumers continue filing more complaints on an annual average basis than they filed prior to retail electric deregulation 11 years ago, the analysis found.
For its analysis, the coalition reviewed 16 years of complaint data at the Public Utility Commission, the state agency that oversees the Texas electricity market. The analysis found that electric complaints have declined four years in a row, and in fiscal year 2013 stood at 7,129. The drop follows a downward trend in Texas electricity prices, linked to changes in the commodity price of natural gas — a key fuel for many electricity plants.
The analysis shows that Texans filed significantly fewer complaints prior to deregulation. The average annual number of electricity-related complaints fielded by the Public Utility Commission in the four pre-deregulation years in the survey totaled about 1,316. After deregulation, the number was 11,111.
Although population growth and heavier Internet usage to facilitate the complaint process can explain some of the increase, the report found it unlikely that those factors alone account for the dramatic differences.
“We’re hopeful that as Texans become more familiar with the market, that complaints will continue to decline,” Moravec said.
Texas Coalition for Affordable Power comprises more than 160 cities and other political subdivisions that purchase electricity in the deregulated market for their own governmental use. More information is available at http://tcaptx.com.