Posts Tagged ‘public utility’

Municipally owned utility companies could lose their exemption to parts of the Texas Open Meetings Act under a bill filed by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Steve OgdenThe bill was filed in response to a dispute between the City of Bryan and its publicly operated electric company.

Last year City of Byran officials asked Bryan Texas Utilities to provide them with the compensation packages for 13 top executives as part of their budget preparations. The utility refused, citing a provision in the 1999 electric market restructuring law that allows them to withhold some information if it would put publicly owned companies at a competitive disadvantage.

Senate Bill 366 would strip that exemption from the government code.  Ogden filed the bill  just days after the utility relented and agreed to release part of the information that city officials were requesting. The Bryan-College Station Eagle also filed numerous open records requests for the information.

We’ll be watching this bill with some interest.

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Greg Harman at the San Antonio Current broke this story a few days back and I just feel like we have to comment:

As Washington strains under the weight of industry and environmental lobbyists seeking to influence the outcome of what would be our first national climate bill, CPS Energy has been quietly working the angles on Capitol Hill to keep the coal power the city has come to rely on cheap for consumers in the short term. So-called “cheap” power is the mandate the utility operates under, after all.

Too bad that mandate is now at odds with the survival of the earth as we know it and, quite possibly, our survival as a city and a nation.

Responding to an Open Records request submitted by the Current, a CPS Energy legal staffer wrote that the City-owned utility has spent $91,700 lobbying in the past year “in the attempt to influence U.S. climate policy.”

According to Zandra Pulis, senior legal counsel at CPS, the utility has also spent about $67,657 in membership dues to the Climate Policy Group, an industry group it joined in September of 2006 that lobbies Congress against limiting carbon emissions under cap-and-trade legislation. An effort that, to this point, has been remarkably successful.

All told, CPS has spent $2.56 million on lobbyists (since 1999) working the statehouse and the Capitol, according to Pulis.

That’s right — CPS has spent millions of YOUR dollars on lobbying, much of which has gone to try to argue climate change isn’t happening.

Look, I understand that CPS has a mission to produce inexpensive electricity for San Antonio residents and business.  That’s a good thing.  But the facts are these:

1- Climate change is happening.  But even if it wasn’t, everything we need to do to solve it is something that we would want to be to doing anyway.  We need to start living with the fact that political consensus has developed in Washington.  Sooner or later, we’re going to have to  start paying for our greenhouse gas pollution, so we’d better start figuring out how to get our energy from non-polluting sources. (more…)

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