Litter On A Stick

Litter On A Stick

“Litter on a stick” is a good term for the makeshift, poorly constructed and unsightly tangle of overhead utility poles, wires and transformers that blemish the city’s landscape. Our electrical grid, operated by CenterPoint Energy, needs a fix, a major overhaul. Remember Ike, when the poles and wires toppled and the city went dark? Even after costly repairs, paid for by rate increases, our grid remains extremely vulnerable to the next big wind storm. It’s a worn-out 19th century electrical infrastructure trying to serve a fast-growing 21st century cit

It’s expensive to boot. Houstonians pay among the highest electrical rates in the nation, and about 3 cents to 5 cents per kilowatt hour more than in Austin and San Antonio, where the local utility companies are city-owned and operated on a nonprofit basis. These high rates are not business-friendly. Worse still, Houston’s basic rate structure is far from “green”- it rewards higher monthly consumption with lower per kilowatt hour rates, discouraging energy conservation, as I learned from two recent monthly bills showing 15 cents per kwh for higher usage, versus 22 cents for much lower usage. Consumers seem to be at the mercy of the deregulated utility companies and the state Public Utility Commission (PUC). Last year, the Houston City Council rejected CenterPoint Energy’s request for a $94 million rate increase, and instead proposed a $182.8 million decrease. Unfortunately, the (PUC), with the final say, granted a significant increase anyway.

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