Help Texans Reform the Public Utility Commission
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Dear Governor Abbott,
Our Texas winter storm was a beast whose power was magnified by the incompetence of the Public Utilities Commission that chose not to use its jurisdiction power over ERCOT to enforce logical measures that could’ve saved the lives lost and avoided all Texans the suffering they experienced!
Forty four city tax paying families along with myself have experienced that incompetence firsthand as the PUC, also, chose not to use its jurisdiction power over the City of Del Rio’s Utility Department which has denied those families sewer line maintenance since May 2020. Why? Because the PUC stood by the City that decided that these particular customers don’t deserve the utility maintenance simply because their homes are attached to someone else’s land.
Under both the Texas Water Code and Texas Administrative Code a water utility-provider is obligated to provide its customers with adequate service to their residential address. Those laws do not say that a utility-provider’s obligation to protect the health and wellbeing of the public and environment drops when the utility-customer, it bills each month, happens to live upon rented land.
Last year, the PUC was informed of sewer backups into several yards and, horribly, into homes. The PUC chose to allow the City continue its denial of maintenance despite that most of the homeowners have been city taxpayers / city utility customers for years- some up to 40.
The PUC shocked us as it did nothing to the city that is using the “private” property card to avoid its maintenance obligation while allowing its water meter-readers to roam their neighborhood, freely each month, to take the water and gas readings the city needs to charge their customers $$$. The PUC cared nothing about the environmental hazard the City created.
The PUC’s inaction emboldened the City of Del Rio officials who have ignored nine months of pleas for either restoration of the much needed maintenance or to allow for a public hearing on the issue.
That inaction, now, has the City attempting to abandon the Public Water System that serves their homes, altogether. Under Texas Administrative Code § 24.249 a utility-provider must petition the PUC and inform their utility-customers that it intends to cease operations. I have asked the PUC, multiple times, if it received such a petition from the City that’s moving forward with abandonment actions that have everyone worried about their situation. The PUC is hush on this matter as my emails went unanswered.
Before our interaction with the PUC, I believed it to be the State watchdog that protects utility customers from rogue or greedy utility companies. The PUC failed these Del Rio utility-customers, who are weak against their utility-provider. And just a few days ago it, horribly, failed all Texans!
The PUC chairman resigned, on Monday, which is a great step forward but still serious reform of the agency, that chose to not act, is needed. Here, I –humbly- ask you and anyone that loves Texas for their assistance in doing so. Asking that you #KickTexasPUC and shake it up!
The Public Utility Commission of Texas needs to be reformed to truly protect customers, foster competition, and promote high quality infrastructure as its mission statement states it does.
My prayers are that no utility-customer, ever again, suffers at the hands of a utility-provider due to the inaction of the Public Utility Commission!
Thank you! God bless Texas and God bless the USA!
Lia Del Rio
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