By Caroline Halter
Approximately 39,000 Sharyland customers in West Texas will soon become customers of the state’s largest privately held utility, Oncor. It’s part of an asset swap between the two companies that was announced on Monday, July 24.
“The trigger for all of this… was the Sharyland rate case,” said attorney Geoffrey Gay. He’s referring to a rate case that began in 2016, in which he represented several West Texas cities. A rate case is a procedure of the Public Utility Commission of Texas used to determine how much a public utility can charge its customers.
Sharyland’s rates are more than twice the state average for regulated utilities. This prompted many local government officials to speak out against the rate setting process for the state’s public utilities.
“The way the commission handles things usually ends up with the residential class paying significantly more than commercial and industrial customers,” explained Gay. But he said Sharyland’s high rates have more to do with the company itself.
“That service territory was a co-op and then it went private, and Sharyland came in probably over-payed for it,” said Gay. “And trying to recover the investment they’ve put in is what drove up the rates.”
To complete the deal, Sharyland and Oncor will jointly file an application with the Public Utility Commission of Texas, and the approval process could take up to six months.