Most Texans can choose an electric service plan that best meets their needs. But not in Georgetown! Why? Choice is a basic Texas value. If the Georgetown electric service market were open to competition, people could choose a Retail Electric Provider that offers innovative plans, e.g. free nights, free weekends, 100 percent renewable, etc. They could choose a 6, 12, or 24 months fixed or variable contract and probably pay less than what they pay in Georgetown.
Choice would require people to choose a plan that is right for their family. But this is no different than shopping for a car, smart phone service, etc. The assumption people cannot make a better choice for their electric service plan than a politician is really over the top.
Choice would not require people to switch providers. If they like Georgetown Utility Systems’ (GUS) one size fits all plan, they could keep it. No one was forced to change providers when most of the Texas electric utility businesses were deregulated.
If the market were open to competition, so goes the argument, property taxes would go up. The Electric Fund would not have the surpluses to transfer to the General Fund. Maybe! It would depend on how well GUS responded to competition.
Using Electric Fund surpluses to hide the true cost of government is disingenuous.
GUS probably could compete in an open market. It pays no federal and state taxes; it has access to municipal financing for system expansion; it would have customer inertia. It probably would have to lower its monopolistic rates. And it probably would need a management team that understands market-based competition.
Competition would force GUS to do things better, faster, cheaper. It would force GUS to better manage its contracting risks. And it would force GUS to be as lean and mean as possible.
When most of the electric utility industry in Texas was deregulated, the legacy businesses had to re-engineer their operations to meet the competition. They eliminated many wasteful practices. And the people of Texas benefited from the changes. It is hard to believe that GUS does not have some inefficiencies that could be cured by a robust, competitive market.
If Georgetown were open to competition, the residents would not have to determine what went wrong with the wind and solar contracts, or who is at fault. They could simply switch providers.