City of Tyler to challenge electricity rate increase

By: Erin Mansfield |

The city of Tyler plans to challenge a proposal by a local utility company that would raise electricity prices for households across the region.

The Tyler City Council is scheduled to vote on the issue at its regular meeting at 9 a.m. Wednesday. The city manager and city attorney are recommending the council approve it.

At issue is whether Oncor Electric Distribution, which runs electricity to homes and businesses across Texas cities, including Tyler, can raise its electric rates by $19 million.

Oncor is the company that distributes electricity, meaning the company runs lines from utility poles to homes and businesses. Consumers then choose from a variety of retail companies, which bill the consumers for services.

Sempra Energy announced in August it would buy Oncor in August for $9.45 billion, and the deal was completed in March. This is the first time the new owners have sought to raise electric prices.

The company is seeking to raise its rates by a total of $19 million on customers across Texas. The increase per household would be about 36 cents per month, according to the Atmos Steering Committee of Cities.

Tyler is a member of the Atmos Steering Committee of Cities, which serves as the public advocate for rate cases in front of the Texas Public Utility Commission, a regulatory board that oversees Oncor.

Thomas Brocato, a lawyer for the steering committee, said his team has recommended the city of Tyler, among other cities, oppose the increase so public advocates can figure out whether the increase is appropriate.

“We just want to make sure that the number shouldn’t be $15 million or $17 million instead of $19 million,” Brocato said.

Brocato said the case would affect everyone in Tyler because their electric bills include rates from Oncor.

“For a utility of their size, it’s a fairly modest increase on people’s bills, but nevertheless it’s an increase, and it’s set by the government,” Brocato said.

Brocato said the public advocates have had settlement discussions with Oncor and could settle on a rate increase in the coming weeks.

A full version of the Tyler City Council agenda is available on TylerPaper.com.

City of Tyler to challenge electricity rate increase