Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas


What Is The Public Utility Commission of Texas?


The Public Utility Commission of Texas, or PUC, regulates the state’s electric and telecommunication utilities, implements respective legislation, and offers customer assistance in resolving consumer complaints. It works to protect customers, foster competition, and promote high quality infrastructure among the electric and telecommunication’s wholesale market. In 1975, the Texas Legislature enacted the Public Utility Regulatory Act (PURA) and created the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC) to provide statewide regulation of rates and services of electric and telecommunications utilities. Texas was the last state to enact this kind of law.

The combined effects of Texas legislation passed in 1995 and the Federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 allowed for competition in telecommunication’s wholesale and retail services and the creation of a competitive electric wholesale market. Further changes in the 1999 Texas Legislature called for a restructuring of the electric utility industry and created new legislation that ensured the protection of customers’ rights in the new competitive environment. These changes have dramatically re-shaped the PUC’s mission and focus, shifting from up-front regulation of rates and services to oversight of competitive markets and compliance enforcement of statues and rules.

The PUC has played a central role in overseeing the transition to competition in the local and long distance telecommunications markets and the wholesale and retail electric markets by ensuring that customers receive the intended benefits of the shift.

The PUC also regulates the rates and services of transmission and distribution utilities that operate in competitive markets, investor-owned electric utilities where competition has not been chosen and incumbent local exchange companies that have not elected incentive regulation.

In 2009, the PUC opted not to seek some stimulus funds available to them.

Donna Nelson of Austin is the current Chair of the PUC. She was appointed to the position by Governor Rick Perry in July 2011.

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