The Public Utilities Commission of Texas is a state agency that operates as a regulator, as well as provides a variety of services and coordination to markets and citizens.
What is the Public Utility Commission of Texas?
The Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) is a regulatory agency in charge of overseeing Texas’s electric, telecommunications, water, and sewer utilities. It exists to
protect consumers, foster competition, and promote high quality infrastructure.
What does the PUCT do?
The PUCT is active in the following areas:
Implementing Regulatory Policy
The PUCT has a dual role — for some industries, like water, sewer, and parts of the Texas electricity market, the PUC is in charge of regulating prices and services. This means that in some areas, mainly those outside the ERCOT power grid, the PUCT directly sets prices for services, and must approve any increase in price. Inside of the ERCOT power grid, which serves 90% of the Texas market, PUCT acts as an overseer and coordinator, but prices are market-determined.
Overseeing Competitive Markets
Since the late 1990’s, electricity markets have been deregulated for about 23 million Texas consumers, giving them increased competition, choice, and potential savings on their monthly electric bill. The PUC oversees and is working to expand these competitive market structures. It also works to ensure that consumers receive the full benefits of deregulation, and fields and resolves consumer complaints.
The PUC acts as a consumer advocate, both directly intervening on behalf of consumer complaints, and providing information and services such as the following:
- Explaining different features of your electric bill
- Ensuring the presence of back-up electricity providers in areas open to competition
- Working with electricity providers to expand Smart Meters to consumers
- Offering assistance paying utility bills to qualifying households and wounded veterans
- Responding to complaints from consumers who think their rights or contracts have been violated
Areas not covered by the PUC
The Texas PUC does not currently have any regulatory authority over cell phone providers, cable television services, natural gas providers, water quality, long-distance phone service, municipally owned electric utilities, and anything regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
The Texas PUC dates back to 1975, when it was created in order to provide statewide regulation of prices for the electricity and telecommunications industries. In the 1980's and 1990's, the Texas PUC's role changed, as it both lost some jurisdiction, and gained new responsibilities. Today, deregulation has meant a slightly different job for the PUCT -- its old work as regulator has merged with market facilitation and advocating for consumers.
How to Contact the PUC
1701 N. Congress Avenue
PO Box 13326
Austin, TX 78711-3326
William B. Travis Bldg.
1701 N. Congress Avenue
Austin, TX 78701
Agency Switchboard: 512-936-7000
Assistance Hotlines: 888-782-8477 or 512-936-7120
Central Records: 512-936-7180
Online complaints can be made here