Texans Shocked by Spiking Power Bills

State not quite prepared for deregulation, and higher fuel costs don't help, either
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 17, 2008 9:30 AM CDT
An unidentified woman gathers her laundry outside her home near Santa Rosa, Texas, Thursday, July 10, 2008. Line drying clothes is one way to cut back on electrical costs.   (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
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(Newser) – As energy prices soar, many Texans are wishing they had added "regulation of electrical companies" to the list of things not to mess with. Authorities predicted competition would lower prices when they deregulated the industry in 1999, the Wall Street Journal reports, but inadequate infrastructure, rising fuel costs, and other factors have meant just the opposite.

Prices are often double or triple the national average, spiking to $40 per hour—40 times the US norm—during peak usage. In addition to the splintering effects of deregulation, unexpected bottlenecks are causing problems getting power to customers, further fueling price inflation and worrying analysts. "I don't think we can put the toothpaste back in the tube," one legislator says. "All we can do is go forward."