Deregulation a Mixed Bag for Texas Electricity Customers

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In 1999, when the Texas legislature deregulated its electricity market, breaking with decades of tradition that stretched back to Samuel Insull's Commonwealth Edison, rhetoric ran high. Either the decision would save the state's consumers huge sums of money through the magic of competition or greedy companies, freed from the public utility commission, would take the state for all it was worth. 


More than ten years later, as Kate Galbraith reports in a deep, balanced piece for the Texas Tribune, neither side was right. Natural gas prices cloud any real analysis. Consumers have more choices but they are more confused. About the only thing that's for sure is that renewable energy got a boost. 

Conservative groups assert that deregulation has allowed consumers to choose lower electricity prices, caused old plants to be replaced with efficient new ones and encouraged renewable energy. Some ratepayer groups argue that deregulation has caused rates for ordinary Texans to be higher than they would have been otherwise.

It's the kind of piece that a pull quote doesn't do justice, though, so head over and read the Galbraith's reporting.

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com, where he also oversees the Technology Channel. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science Web site in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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