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Electric deregulation draws complaints in Texas

Texans are growing more satisfied with their electricity providers, but they are griping far more than they did before the state deregulated its power market, according to a report released Monday.

The Texas Coalition for Affordable Power, a group of cities and other local governments, analyzed 16 years of consumer complaints filed with the state’s Public Utility Commission. The complaints — which cover a range of issues including those related to billing, service and meters — have dwindled in each of the past four years. That trend may indicate that Texans are getting used to a new electricity market with more choices, the group said, although falling electricity prices, spurred by low-priced natural gas, may have also helped drive that trend.Longer-term data, however, shows that Texans are complaining far more than they did before 2002, when the state allowed consumers to choose their power providers. That trend, the group said, signals lingering problems in the market and the possibility that some consumers aren’t fully weighing their options.A PUC website called Power to Chooseallows consumers to compare companies’ prices and complaint history.

In 2009, the PUC logged nearly 16,000 complaints, and that number fell to about 7,100 this year, according to the analysis. Regulators received more than 2,000 complaints in 2001. The total ballooned to more than 8,500 the next year, before doubling in 2003.

(excerpt from the Texas Tribune – click here to read the full piece, from October 1, 2013)