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The Malakoff News
Malakoff, Texas
December 7, 2012     The Malakoff News
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December 7, 2012

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':; i/!: i:~'~! ...... 7:: '. ........ Page 4A - The News - Friday, December 7, 2012 Special to The News Austin -- Last week, State Senator Robert Nichols chaired a Senate Natural Resources sub- committee meeting to ad- dress rising water and sewer rates from investor- owned utilities. Nichols was appointed to lead the subcommittee charged with making poli- cy recommendations re- garding the rapidly esca- lating water and sewer rates for Texans living in rural and unincorporated areas of the state. "The many stakeholders working with the subcom- mittee have helped us to determine that the current regulatory system is bro- ken," said Nichols. "The one-size-fits-all treatment of large-, mid- and small- sized utilities does not work." It is the subcommittee's proposal that rate jurisdic- tion of water and waste water be moved from the Texas Commission on En- vironmental Quality (TCEQ) to the Public Util- ities Commission (PUC). The workgroup has reached this conclusion for two primary reasons: PUC's structure and ex- pertise are focused on fair and efficient rate-related regulation. Transfer offers potential benefits by aligning most State utility regulation within one agency. PUC's mission is to pro- tect customers, foster competition and promote high quality infrastructure, whereas TCEQ's mission is to protect our state's public health and natural resources. Considering that PUC currently regu- lates the state's electric and telecommunication utilities, it would be a rela- tively seamless transition COURTESY PHOTO State Sen. Robert Nichols (sitting) poses with (from leR) C.A. Cockrell, III, of Murchison, TAMER Chairman Orville R. Bevel, Jr., and Ivanhoe Mayor Jack Brockhouse. to transfer water rate regu- lation to their purview as well. This would take ad- vantage of PUC's regula- tory focus while also al- lowing TCEQ to better focus on its core mission of ensuring environmental equality. Henderson County res- ident and Texans Against Monopolies' Excessive Rates (TAMER) Chair- man Orville R. Bevel, Jr., noted in his testimony at the meeting, "TAMER heartily supports the transfer of the regulation of water and sewer utili- ties to the PUC. We also support giving the Office of Public Utility Counsel (OPUC) a role in the water and sewer regula- tion. We do not believe that water and sewer ratemaking is a function of environmental regula- tion." OPUC helps electric and telecommunication cus- tomers by providing them with representation and in- terceding on their behalf.: It is the subcommittee's proposal that OPUC also: come to represent water ratepayers who currently only have access to the Of-: rice of Public Interest Counsel (OPIC) to answer basic procedural questions regarding TCEQ. As Nichols noted, "It is vital that ratepayers have: legitimate customer repre- sentation to stand on their behalf. A transfer to OPUC will ensure this oc- curs." Participants in the re- view process have includ- ed representatives from key stakeholder groups such as ratepayers, in- vestor-owned utilities, TCEQ, PUC and OPUC. iiii Pick-up and Delivery anywhere in the USA! CONE SEE THE ALL 2013 Nissan Pathfinder 2013 Sentra Ask about our VIP Test Drive 2o13 Altima 2.5S NWk~ ~;I, VIN 4Nm TOTAl. S~VXNGS: $2,73~ 2013 Versa 1.8S TOTAL S~VINGS= $11871 2o13 Rogue S TOTAL S~NGS= : 72~t : Juke S !8, 499 2o12 Xterra X 4x2 'TOTAL SAV~N~ $5~46! 2012 Titan SV Crew Cab 2WD $12fl}66 2o12 Maxima 3,5S o12 Sentra 2.0 SR Spec~! Edition 2012 Pathfinder 2WD S TOTAL SAVINGS~ $t13;1~; UE COMPRES CON CON FIANZAi! ~4v, m * ~,sc v~ c~aem. B~e~ck 4~27,9:1L0