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October 4, 1996
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One of the phrases often used in marketing materials around this state
is "Texas - it's like a whole other country. One might think this is
another country when it comes to the subject of electric utility
Though I'm not a native of Texas, I did have the good fortune to come
here for my college years. Between that experience and my time with a
Fort Worth-based utility, I've been around long enough to know the
people of this state believe we're leaders, not followers. We're the
largest state of the contiguous United States, and we ought to act like
it - right?
That's why it's baffling to see where Texas stands on energy
deregulation. Not only is this great state not taking the lead; the
biggest utilities in the state have their feet firmly planted and are
resisting the customers' right to choose, or at least attempting to slow
The California legislature's passing of a historic electrical industry
deregulation bill puts them in the lead of 40 states now in the process
of deregulating their electric power industries. Texas utilities ought
to sit up and take notice.
It seems the real point of contention in Texas is the issue of stranded
costs. I believe that if you find an answer to that problem, the rest of
the transition will be easy. Examples of potential answers already exist.
The California bill allows its utilities to recover billions of dollars
invested in unprofitable nuclear plants, while guaranteeing customers
market access by 2003. We, too, should be able to reach an understanding
concerning fair recovery of state-approved energy investments.
Our small company has a sizable percentage of potential stranded
investment compared to other Texas utilities, but we're adamant we can
offset or recover the cost in a short, reasonable amount of time. Our
proposal to deal with the stranded cost issue and bring choice to our
customers, called Community Choice SM, currently is before the Public
Utility Commission of Texas. It stipulates a five-year transition period
during which customer rates would be frozen at current levels. The
transition would allow us to offset or recover potential stranded costs.
We believe this approach is reasonable for both shareholder and
Another argument against deregulation is that residential and small
commercial customers will be hardest hit in a competitive market, while
large industrials will continue to reap the benefits.
One answer for creating an even playing field is by aggregating, or
combining, electric loads at the community level or at some other
appropriate level. In so doing, small commercial and residential
customers - the little guys - will enjoy the same buying power large
industrial customers currently have. This is another facet of the
Community Choice proposal currently before the PUCT.
Other issues about energy deregulation that continue to surface concern
higher rates, accessibility, reliability, billing and service. These
elements appear to be stalling techniques to slow down the process. In
fact, The biggest risk of all lies with consumers. When a deregulated
energy environment is in place, they will share the responsibility for
decisions they make concerning their energy providers.
It's true that energy rates in Texas are below the national average.
Some say the fact that we already have considerably lower rates is a
reason for starving off competition. However, competition is just one
more way to ensure electric rates stay low. And aggregating loads is the
answer for across-the-board benefits.
Other say we should not rush to adopt "retail wheeling." The fact is,
there's no better time. Our state is not in crisis. We simply have the
chance to allow this state to continue to thrive, by giving its citizens
options in energy providers much as they have options in just about
every other area of their lives.
It all boils down to choice ... whether it's called consumer choice of
Community Choice. Let's give our customers the power of choice.
Kevern R. Joyce is chairman and chief executive officer of TNP
Enterprises, Inc., which is the parent company of Texas-New Mexico Power
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I don't know the man, but I'm a big fan of the sheriff of Maricopa
County in Arizona (Phoenix). His name is Joe Arpaio and he bills himself
as an "equal opportunity incarcerator."
He's known as America's toughest sheriff. What has added to his
reputation is that he is big on chain gangs doing public service work.
Since he is an equal opportunity incarcerator, those chain gaings
He is quoted by Associated Press as saying, "I don't believe in
discrimination in my jail system. Crime knows no gender and neither
That's my kind of sheriff!
Of course, he has critics including a prisoner rights group. Most people
who read my column know that I don't believe prisoners have any rights
other than to not be abused and they should be fed decently. That
doesn't mean they are entitled to anything special, just food that will
Prisoners in my opinion give up their rights when they violate the
rights of others which is done when they commit a crime.
The sheriff says he wants the prisoners "out in the open where everybody
can see them and show people that this could happen to them if they
commit a crime." I really believe he's got a great point. The stock
system that used to be used in Colonial America was in my mind a great
deterent to crime as people who committed crimes were put on display on
the courthouse lawn, shackled and locked in stocks.
I really believe also that work details is a good way to make prisoners
pay for their crimes in that they do work that would otherwise have to
be paid for, plus when they are working, they can't sit around thinking
And I if were a prisoner, and I certainly hope that never happens, I'd
want to keep busy so time would pass faster.
Of course, you always have malcontents, those people who are never happy
about anything and then you have do gooders who don't have lives and
want to protest anything and everything.
However, I want to encourage prison officials everywhere to make
criminals pay for their crimes by more than just being sent to jail
and/or fined. They need to be put to work.
Hooray for Sheriff Arpaio.
Mac McKinnon is editor and publisher of the Pecos Enterprise. His column
appears on Wednesday and Friday.
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The Monahans News joins the Hispanic Business Roundtable and other
groups in strongly condemning the language used during the past week by
Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Victor Morales. Victor Morales
referred to U.S. Henry Bonilla as a "coconut," as in brown on the
outside, white on the inside.
To quote a press release from the Hispanic Roundtable; "Calling
Congressman Bonilla a 'coconut' simply because he disagrees with Morales
on key issues shows the type of intolerance and bigotry that exists
among the liberal elite, that demands that the minority community
blindly follow the lead of their patrons, without daring to disagree,"
said HBR Executive Director Roberto Deposada. "If supporting the
lowering of the tax burden on our community, supporting reforming a
welfare system that tears families apart makes Bonilla a coconut, then
there are many palm trees in Texas and throughout the country."
The Monahans News will go a step further and point out that Mr. Bonilla,
a Republican from San Antonio has done more for Texas and this area than
Mr. Morales could ever hope to accomplish.
We support Mr. Bonilla in his efforts to be re-elected and we support
U.S. Sen Phil Gramm, who is being challenged by Mr. Morales, a Mesquite
As should be obvious, his "coconut" comment fell with a thud.
The Monahans News
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Copyright 1996 by Pecos Enterprise
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321
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