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  • Texas PUC Takes Steps to Protect Consumers

    (August 9, 2018) With Texan consumers facing increased electric bills, due both to rising costs and higher than normal temperatures, it’s more critical than ever that Texas consumers have clear and accurate information on their electricity choices. The Texas Public Utility Commission (PUC) today made another step in the right direction, approving an additional filter to be put on the Power to Choose website. Read Texas ROSE Press Release
  • Texas ROSE joins Consumer Federation of America in energy efficiency lawsuit

    April 3, 2017 Washington, D.C. – The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) and the Texas Ratepayers’ Organization to Save Energy (Texas ROSE) joined with environmental groups last Friday in a lawsuit against the Department of Energy for illegal delays of energy efficiency standards affecting ceiling fans. Several states have filed a separate lawsuit on the matter. The ceiling fan rule was formally issued and published on January 19, 2017, to go into effect on March 20, 2017; however the Trump Administration delayed the effective date, first, until March 21, 2017 followed by a second notice of delay until September 30, 2017. The groups are joining in this lawsuit for economic and legal reasons. They are challenging as contrary to law DOE’s efforts to thwart the ceiling fan rule. They are also concerned that failure to adopt cost-effective ceiling fan efficiency will cost consumers millions of dollars in energy savings. Efficiency standards have been proven repeatedly to save consumers money because the savings from reduced energy consumption far exceeds the cost of the technology needed to make the appliance more efficient.  In this case, the benefits are almost four times the cost with a net total value of over $12 billion dollars. “As a matter of law and practice, the agencies issuing standards must consider all of the benefits and all of the costs,” Mark Cooper, CFA’s Director of Research said.  “The public relations ploy of citing only the costs and ignoring the benefits stops when the agency issues a rule.  The real facts take over and the reality is that energy efficiency standards have the unique effect of directly putting money into consumer pocketbooks.” “Energy efficiency standards like these also have a macroeconomic multiplier effect.  For every dollar increase in consumer disposable income, there is an additional dollar of induced economic growth, because the multiplier of general consumer spending is much larger than the multiplier of spending on energy.  If you want to grow the economy, increasing energy efficiency is one of the best ways to do so,” Cooper concluded. “Raising energy efficiency standards benefits all consumers with lower utility bills and conserves our energy resources. The DOE strategy should be to move up the effective date, not delay it.   More efficient ceiling fans installed in apartments and homes will do nothing but save struggling families money,” said Carol Biedrzycki, Executive Director of Texas Ratepayers’ Organization to Save Energy. The delays of the implementation of the rule violate the law.  In a sense, the facts in this case present the most explicit test of whether the new administration will obey the law.  Although the first delay was just one day and distressing enough, the second delay is alarming. Many of the energy efficiency rules written over the past decade have come about because the courts could no longer tolerate the failure to comply with legally binding deadlines in the statue governing the setting of energy efficiency rules.  Therefore, it is particularly important to reinforce the principle that rules must be written in a timely fashion and should not be needlessly delayed. “This case represents the purest example of needless and illegal delay,” said Cooper.  “The rule is faithful to the statute, was written in accordance with the Administrative Procedures Act and saves consumers money. This is the perfect case to lay down the law.” Contact: Mark Cooper (301) 384-2204 or Carol Biedrzycki (512) 472-5233 The Consumer Federation of America is an association of more than 250 nonprofit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education. Texas ROSE (Ratepayers’ Organization to Save Energy) is a non-profit membership organization based in Austin, Texas dedicated to affordable electricity and a healthy environment. 
  • Consumers ask Texas PUC to Investigate Pre-paid Electricity Service

    May 19th, Austin Texas – A Texas consumer group filed a petition today asking the Public Utility Commission (PUC) to investigate Direct Energy’s business practices in its Power-to-Go prepaid electricity product.  The petition was filed by Texas Ratepayers’ Organization to Save Energy (Texas ROSE) with a statement from a former employee concerned about the disconnection process and the health and wellbeing of the low-income and minority families who are given little choice except to take the Power-to-Go option. In December of last year Carol Biedrzycki, executive director of Texas ROSE, issued a report examining the features of prepaid service plans and concluded that there is no evidence that the plans are in the best interests of residential and low-income consumers.  She was contacted by David Korn, a former employee of Direct Energy’s customer service contractor, APAC Customer Services, in February.  After reviewing the documents on file at the Public Utility Commission he contacted Biedrzycki because Texas ROSE was the only party to the rulemaking that seemed to understand the problems prepaid service in Texas poses to financially struggling consumers. Korn worked with Biedrzycki over the last few months to document for the PUC the need for a closer look at the product.  Texas Legal Services Center, State Representative Sylvester Turner, Public Citizen Texas and National Consumer Law Center have signed on in support of the petition.  Biedrzycki is aware that the PUC has no obligation to act on the Petition.  She concludes, “the PUC is the only place to go to get the facts about how the commission’s prepaid service rules play out in the real world.  This was a worthwhile effort because doing nothing means we will never get to the truth about prepaid service.” Prepaid electricity service is a controversial product in the consumer world.  Prices are high, it’s complicated to track how much money you need to keep the power on, and under newer rules it is easier for a company to disconnect a customer’s service.  There is no limit to the number of times a customer can be disconnected.  If the demand for payment comes between paychecks the customer has no option except to be without service.  Korn, who provides a lengthy affidavit for the petition, affirms that the marketing of the product targets low-income and minority households, presents an inaccurate description of how the service works, and fails to disclose the higher likelihood of being disconnected.  “In my short time at APAC, I regularly spoke to customers who needed help because they were confused about how their service worked, electronic disconnection notices were not always being delivered and families, many with young children, were often left without electricity for long periods of time.” Randall Chapman, executive director of Texas Legal Services Center, says he read the petition and “was overwhelmed by the need to assure that notice and disconnection practices are complying with the law and that low-income and minority customers are not being targeted by a substandard service package.” Representative Sylvester Turner has been outspoken about his concerns that prepaid service is a negative consequence of the deregulated electricity market that gives people lower quality and higher priced service with a lower level of protection from disconnection.  Turner states, “The commission needs to follow through with an investigation, levy fines where there are violations of the law and stop any business practices that are not in the best interests of low-income consumers.” Public Citizen Texas shares the concern that prepaid service is creating a second class of electricity consumers and that the PUC needs to take a hard look at what is happening to Power-to-Go customers.  Tom “Smitty” Smith, executive director says, “having a deregulated electricity market was supposed to benefit consumers. We need to get to the bottom of this and make it right.” The National Consumer Law Center has conducted research and issued reports on prepaid service in many jurisdictions citing the negative price and service impacts prepaid electricity has on low-income households.  See “Rethinking Prepaid Utility Service: Customers at Risk” at
  • Texas ROSE report: Prepaid service is high risk with little protection for consumers

    A new report from Texas ROSE documents the terms and conditions of buying prepaid electricity and the fees charged by prepaid REPs in deregulated areas of Texas.  You may download a PDF file of the full prepaid electricity analysis and report here on this website. The report documents that prepaid service is high risk and provides little or no protection to the low-income consumers targeted for buying the service. The report concludes that prepaid service is substandard and asks the PUC to take a number of steps to reform prepaid service.
  • Texas ROSE-2013 Report on REP fees

    Download our report Texas ROSE recently conducted a survey to gather information for consumers in Texas about fees – sometimes very high fees – charged by retail electric providers (REPs). Fees can make a big difference in what a consumer pays for electricity. When choosing a REP, fees should be carefully studied along with the electricity price offered by the REP. The tables in this report demonstrate, at a given point in time, the vast differences in fees being charged by different retailers in the Texas electricity market. Read the full report on REP fees in PDF format Fees Summary – 2013 Report by Texas ROSE (PDF)
  • Interview with ED Carol Biedrzycki reveals consumers being hit with unecessary extra fees

    Texas ROSE Executive Director Carol Biedrzycki was interviewed following the distribution of a survey of billing practices by Texas utility providers. The Watchdog column of the Dallas Morning News written by Dave Lieber concluded that there is no standardization for fees in either their presentation to customers or actual charges. They found the results to be quite willy-nilly and cautioned electricity buyers to beware. Read the full interview: Texas electricity companies profit from fees that some call ‘money for nothing’
  • 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. Carol Biedrzycki, executive director of Texas ROSE filed testimony you can read now.
  • Texas ROSE Website

    The Texas ROSE website has a great new look because of an outstanding program to help nonprofit organizations and a top notch volunteer technical team. Texas ROSE is one of the nonprofits competing in the Knowbility, Inc.’s Open Air competition to build websites for nonprofits that are totally accessible to people with disabilities. A technical team from Headspring, a leading software development company, worked with Texas ROSE to update the website and incorporate tools that will allow the organization to better reach out to its membership and the public.