In 1977, the Texas Legislature created the Sunset Advisory Commission to identify and eliminate waste, duplication, and inefficiency in government agencies. The 12-member Commission is a legislative body that reviews the policies and programs of more than 150 government agencies every 12 years. The Commission questions the need for each agency, looks for potential duplication of other public services or programs, and considers new and innovative changes to improve each agency’s operations and activities. The Commission seeks public input through hearings on every agency under Sunset review and recommends actions on each agency to the full Legislature. In most cases, agencies under Sunset review are automatically abolished unless legislation is enacted to continue them.
The Commission holds public hearings on each agency under review. These hearings offer the public an opportunity to testify about an agency and comment on the Sunset staff’s recommendations. Witness affirmation forms are available at the meeting if you would like to testify before the Commission Public hearings are webcast and archives are available.
On May 25th and 26th, the Sunset Commission will take public testimony on the Public Utility Commission of Texas. This is your opportunity to have input regarding the mission and responsibities of this very important state agency by writing to request the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission recommend the following changes to the Texas Public Utility Commission that would change the purpose of the agency from enhancing competition to lowering costs and protecting consumers by:
- Strengthening enforcement by ensuring complaints are investigated and wrongdoers are put out of business. Increase the certainty of punishment and ensure punishments are effective deterrents by adopting treble damages as a standard. Standardize fines for common abuses and allow the PUC commissioners to issue emergency orders.
- Increasing consumer protections by ensuring the funding collected for low-income Texans goes to assist them and not to balancing the budget by creating an off-budget funding mechanism similar to the energy efficiency fund collected and administered by the transmission and distribution utilities
- Strengthening energy efficiency efforts by creating an independent stand alone efficiency agency to combine the small programs in many state agencies while improving accountability and transparency. Set a goal to reduce energy consumed by 1% per year and ensure all energy efficiency measures are counted in the ERCOT’s long term demand forecast
- Setting better rules for renewable energy by setting a goal of 5,000 MW of non-wind by 2025 coupled with 20% of the states energy come from renewables by 2025. Support the production of renewables by allowing for interconnection to the rest of the national grid through DC ties.
- Promoting the development of energy storage to stabilize renewable energy sources by modifying PUC transmission rules to require storage analysis and allowing storage to be used as an ancillary service
- Creating fair and equitable net metering rules that ensure consumers get paid full value for excess energy they produce and by establishing standards for contracts across providers.
- Establishing rules for transmission and power plant sighting that require land suitability certificates for major new energy projects, establishing guidelines and procedures for transmission lines to favor routes that avoid important scenic and natural areas.
- Ensuring advanced meters and demand response systems being deployed provide the full range of technological capability currently available, and that ERCOT utilizes consumer demand response programs.
- Reforming ERCOT to ensure the board is all public members and that dispatch is executed in ways that lower consumer and environmental costs.
- Preserving the Office of Public Utility Counsel (OPUC) and considering giving them enforcement duties.
- Considering the impacts of Federal environmental and regulatory initiatives in all rulemaking. Specifically, by taking under advisement, ozone and mercury standards, global warming impacts and environmental dispatch issues
The PUC impacts the lives of each and every one of us. You can download a copy of the letter to sign and send to the commission here: Citizen Letter to Sunset Commission on PUC Reforms.