System Benefit Fund Hearing
An Interim Committee on General Revenue Dedicated Accounts of the Texas House of Representatives held a hearing on Friday, November 9th, on the System Benefit Fund (SBF). The SBF was created as part of electric deregulation in Texas. The SBF was established to fund the LITE-UP TEXAS electric rate discount, bill payment assistance for ill and disabled customers, low-income weatherization, and customer education. To maintain the SBF, electric customers in deregulated areas of Texas are charged a fee on their bills. The fee is 65 cents per 1,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity used. All customers in all customer classes pay the fee. The fee collects about $150 million per year.
The problem with the SBF is not its purposes, but that its funds are not being used fully for the programs. A large portion of the SBF is used to balance the state budget while the needs of the low-income electricity consumers go unmet.