June 28, 2012 12:30 PM
AUSTIN (AP) – The Texas Public Utility Commission voted Thursday to raise the wholesale electricity price cap by 50 percent this summer in a move it hopes will spur construction of new power plants.
Texas officials say the state must boost generating capacity to meet growing demand in the next few years to help avoid rolling blackouts during peak periods such as hot summer days.
Supporters of the increase hope the lure of new profits will spur power companies to build more power plants. But consumer groups warn it could raise costs by billions of dollars, leading to higher electric bills for Texas households.
Thursday’s vote by the three-member commission, all appointed by Republican Gov. Rick Perry, raises the wholesale rate on Aug. 1 from the current $3,000 per megawatt-hour to $4,500. And there could be more to come. Commissioners are already considering tripling the price to $9,000 in 2013.