Clean water and air, safe living conditions, electricity — everyday folks look toward their cities and governments to ensure these basic needs are met and affordable.
Officials recently revived the Texas Coast Utilities Coalition and Gulf Coast Utilities Coalition, which represent the interests of several Brazoria County cities, in response to CenterPoint Energy’s proposed rate increase, currently in front of the Public Utility Commission of Texas, the economic regulator of utilities.
While it’s easy for residents to go ahead and say they don’t want to see any rate increases, it’s important to listen and understand why the increase might be necessary, rather than emotionally write the proposal off.
According to a customer notice from CenterPoint Energy, the proposal would increase residential base rates by $1.15 per month, commercial rates would increase $1.75 per month and large commercial rates would increase $43.10 per month.
The proposed increase estimates the residential impact for a customer using 1,000 kilowatt hours would be an increase of $2.38 per month. Current base rates are $15.96 for residential, $18.77 for commercial and $197.27 for large commercial per month, per customer, a CenterPoint Energy news release states.
CenterPoint Energy’s reason behind raising the rates is primarily to recover costs incurred from Hurricane Harvey in 2017, which caused millions of dollars in damages to its infrastructure, CenterPoint Energy representatives said.
Additionally, CenterPoint Energy hopes the rate increase would help cover the maintenance cost of more than 400,000 new customers since its last rate increase in June 2010.
And these are good points. Harvey did wreak destruction on the region, and CenterPoint likely had to incur several costs to keep people’s lights on.
With the rate increase — hovering about $21 million annually — the energy entity hopes to recover those costs over three years, rates manager John Durland said.
But is it reasonable to affect 2,403,340 people by raising their energy rates?
Judging whether a utility’s requested rate increase is reasonable comes down to a subjective opinion.
The coalition of cities needs to consider whether CenterPoint Energy’s plans to raise its base rate for delivering electricity are merited based on objective measures — such as repair cost reimbursements and inflation — and not the emotional realities such as how it affects people’s pocketbooks and whether it will cost them votes.
And thankfully, that seems to be what local leaders are doing.
“It’s just part of being diligent; that’s our responsibility and it’s why legislation gives cities authority to review rates like that because contesting those rates is an important responsibility,” Freeport City Manager Tim Kelty previously told The Facts.
Nobody wants to see their energy rates increase, but let’s not lose sight of the realities and challenges that face the region.