News Release
February 5, 2013
Contact: Mandy Morton
(512) 463-0103
Nichols and Creighton file bills to avoid costly electric utility rate hikes

Austin, TX — House Bill 898 and Senate Bill 349 were filed in the Legislature yesterday in a joint effort by State Representative Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe) and State Senator Robert Nichols (R- Jacksonville) to prevent Texas customers from eventually bearing an unnecessary cost.

"Currently, transmission lines in the state of Texas are required to have a 22-foot clearance per the state's Utilities Code," Creighton said. "In a recent court decision, that standard was applied to distribution lines, the lower-height power lines that you typically see along the street and that provide power to your homes and local businesses.

"The consequence of this decision would mean tens of thousands of miles of distribution lines that have been built according to the National Electrical Safety Code would be out of compliance with our state statute. And that would mean many utilities, co-ops and even municipality-owned electric utilities would have to begin the daunting task of raising their distribution lines to 22 feet."

This type of cost would eventually be recovered from utility customers, and would run into millions of dollars.

"With distribution power lines criss-crossing the entire state of Texas, I would not even venture a guess at how much this could potentially cost the citizens of Texas," Nichols said. "That is simply not acceptable."

The bills introduced would add specific, separate definitions of transmission and distribution lines to the Utilities Code and would be consistent with definitions used by the Public Utility Commission of Texas and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas.

"This solution provides for continued safe and reliable operation of the electric system without costly rate hikes to Texas customers," said Nichols.