In a Texas Tribune article released today, Kate Galbraith asks a great question: “Is the Texas Legislature Raising Utility Rates?” The answer is – yes.

While her article lays out several bills that would raise rates, there is no mention of the energy efficiency bills. I would proffer that those bills would raise rates just as much, if not more than the bills mentioned. The Texas Public Policy Foundation has conducted a study entitled “Energy Efficiency: Is Texas Getting Its Money’s Worth?” indicating that the proposed energy efficiency bills could cost consumers hundreds of millions of dollars.

As the study points out, since 2002, Texas consumers have paid just under $600 million to support the state’s energy efficiency program, and the estimated cost for 2010 was $114.8 million. Increasing this program will only increase the cost. While proponents argue that those costs are offset by future reductions of energy use, the numbers just don’t add up.

When reasonable assumptions are applied to the Public Utility Commission’s (PUCT) data, the potential returns range from 86.3 percent to -11.3 percent. As Dr. Robert Michaels concludes, “There is simply no way, given the existing data and the methodology employed by the PUCT, to properly determine the efficiency – or inefficiency – of the state’s energy efficiency program.”

With no way to currently determine an accurate outcome of these programs, it seems irresponsible to continue to force consumers to pay for them, let alone ask them to pay even more.

-Ryan Brannan