Texas’ electric deregulation took effect Jan. 1 with the intent of giving customers greater control over their energy provider. However, that’s not the case for City of Brady and Cap Rock Electric customers. Because both the City of Brady and Cap Rock-McCulloch Division opted out of the deregulation competition, Brady and McCulloch County residents currently do not have the option to choose their electric provider. The new law allows municipally-owned utilities and electric cooperatives to decide whether they want to offer their customers a choice. “The customers of Cap Rock energy will have a choice in the future, but at this point we don’t know when we’ll opt into competition,” said Jeanagayle Behrens with Cap Rock Electric-McCulloch Division. “We feel like we’re fortunate here at the McCulloch division because our wholesale power supplier is the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) and our generation price that we pass on to our customers is among the lowest costs offered in the state. “Most coops and municipalities have chosen not to open their doors to electric competition,” said Mrs. Behrens. “At this point in time we feel like it is in the best interest of our customers to sit back and see how the whole deregulation process plays out. When it’s the best thing for our customers and for us, we’ll do it.” Speaking on behalf of the City of Brady, City Manager Merle Taylor stated, “I think we owe the citizens of Brady a bit of protection not to be exposed to a situation like what happened in California. At this point, we’re trying to protect the City’s electric business. Assuming that deregulation turns out to be a favorable move in the future, we’ll go back and review our options.” The Brady City Council voted last year to sign a five-year contract with City Public Services of San Antonio. This decision will provide the city with competitive rates that are expected to be lower than WTU. “The contract goes into effect in December, and we do anticipate a decrease in price,” said Taylor. Only electric customers of Texas’ investor-owned utilities, including American Electric Power (including Central Power & Light, Southwestern Electric Power Company and West Texas Utilities), Energy, Texas New Mexico Power, Reliant Energy, TXU Electric, TXU SESCO, and Southwestern Public Service Company will be impacted by the Texas Electric Choice program. The Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC) is the state agency responsible for regulating public utilities in Texas. It will continue to regulate the delivery of electricity to residential homes and businesses, to ensure safety and reliability every step of the way. The PUC will also have limited regulation over Retail Electric Providers (REPs) to ensure that electric customers are protected. Texans needing information to help them compare competitive offers for retail electric service can now get a brochure entitled, “The Electricity Facts Label: What It Is and How It Will Help You Shop for Electricity.” Competition for the retail sale of electricity began this month, and the Electricity Facts Label will help customers decide between competing suppliers when shopping for electricity. The brochure, produced by the PUC and the Texas Electric Choice education campaign, provides details about how the Electricity Facts Label will help customers make a direct comparison when choosing a Retail Electric Provider (REP)’the company that provides electricity to homes and businesses. The Electricity Facts Label, similar to a nutrition label found on many food products, provides helpful information on electricity prices, contract terms, generation sources, and emissions in a standardized format. This information will help customers make an informed decision about their electric service. Under the 1999 state law that restructures Texas’ electric industry and gives Texans a choice of electric providers, each REP is required to provide its Electricity Facts Label to customers upon request. Each REP’s Electricity Facts Label is formatted in a uniform way that enables electric customers to compare the following factors: ‘ Electricity Price: This includes the average cost of electricity in cents per kilowatt-hour at various usage levels. The average price must include all charges assessed by the REP in selling electricity to customers, including promotions, discounts, or incentives offered by the REP. For example, a REP offering customers one month of free electricity must include this incentive in its price per kilowatt-hour to reflect the free month of service. ‘ Contract Terms: This provides specific information on the REP’s minimum contract period and any penalties assessed to customers for early cancellation of their contract. ‘ Sources of Power Generation: This provides a listing, on a percentage basis, of the fuel mix used to produce electricity for a REP’s customers, such as coal, natural gas, nuclear energy, and renewable energy. ‘ Emissions: This provides information on the amount of air emissions attributable to the sources of generation used to produce power for the REP’s customers. For additional information about TEC or to obtain a copy of “The Electricity Facts Label, contact the toll-free answer center at 1-866-797-4839. A copy of the brochure can also be downloaded at www.powerto choose.org.