Co-op Leaders Testify at State Senate Hearing

June 1, 2018

A panel of Texas electric cooperative leaders testified in front of the Texas Senate Committee on Business and Commerce on May 1 as the committee explores the notion of expanding free market electricity to co-op and municipal utilities. Under Texas’ current system, co-ops can opt in to competition if they choose but are not required to compete.

“Our message was simple,” said Mike Williams, TEC president and CEO, who spoke as part of the panel. “The current regulatory framework as it relates to electric cooperatives works just fine, and we recommend no changes to it.”

Sen. Robert Nichols gave a glowing defense of the current setup. He represents areas of rural East Texas, where many of his constituents still don’t have access to cable TV or cellphone service, “but they do have electricity, and it’s because of these co-ops,” Nichols said. “The people love their co-ops, and they stay close to it just like a community.”

Julie Parsley, Pedernales EC CEO; Clifton Karnei, Brazos EPC general manager; and Mark Rollans, Medina EC CEO, joined Williams in front of the committee.

“It was a good day for electric cooperatives,” Williams said. “It showed that we are fully engaged in the political process.”