The Donald Trump administration continues to oppose a Texas energy bill they believe would stifle competition, raise prices, and run counter to President Trump’s America First energy policy.
The Texas Senate passed SB 1938 on April 17 unanimously, 31-0, and the legislation will go to the Texas House for consideration.
The legislation would require that non-incumbent energy companies obtain permission from the state before it could offer electricity to Texans. Many scholars and experts, including the Trump administration, worry the legislation would entrench incumbent companies and stifle competition.
The Trump Department of Justice (DOJ) has raised questions about the legislation, contending the bill would “limit competition, thereby potentially raising prices and lowering the quality of service for electricity consumers.”
One former Trump administration official called the legislation the “antithesis” of Trump’s America First energy policy and blamed Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick for failing to stop the legislation in the Texas Senate.
A former Trump administration official told Breitbart News, “This legislation is the antithesis of President Trump’s free-market oriented America First energy agenda. It’s crony capitalism, pure and simple and Lt. Gov. Patrick should be ashamed of himself for not fighting to put a stop to it in the State Senate.”
The legislation strikes a contrast against President Trump’s America First energy policy, which promotes competition in the energy markets and provides lower energy prices for the average American.
Allen Johnson, president of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW), said the legislation would protect “incumbent energy companies at the expense of consumers.”
Further, Johnson said that the legislation would overturn a competitively awarded transmission contract, charging that the bill amounts to “plan and obvious corporate welfare.”
The legislation also faces opposition from several conservative groups, contending that the bill serves crony capitalist interests and would stifle competition.
Seton Motley, the president of conservative group Less Government, contended the legislation arose because Entergy, an “incumbent crony monopoly,” lost a bidding war on a new electricity line and that this legislation would provide “double-down protection” for the entrenched powers in the energy sector in Texas.
The National Taxpayers Union (NTU) said the legislation would “severely undermine Texas’ electrical energy infrastructure and ultimately lead to higher rates passed on to taxpayers.”
R Street Institute senior energy fellow Josiah Neeley found that the legislation would substantially increase electricity prices in Texas. Neeley cited a recent study which found the winning bidders in competitive projects were 40 percent cheaper than the initial cost estimate, compared to non-competitive projects that ended up costing 34 percent more than initial estimates.
The global consulting firm Brattle Group published a study last year which found that utilities could save up to $8 billion on energy transmission projects over five years by opening up these projects to competitive bidding.
The bill’s swift passage through the Texas Senate raises questions over Texas Lt. Gov Dan Patrick’s commitment to President Trump’s America First energy policy as many experts have suggested the legislation would increase Texans’ energy bills. Patrick, as the president of the state Senate, played a particularly strong role for the legislation’s passage through the Texas state Senate.
Patrick remains reportedly in the mix to become Trump’s next nominee for Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
As the Texas House continues to debate the bill, conservatives have called for the state legislature bill’s outright defeat, delay, or reconsideration to consider the ramifications the bill could have on consumers.
“The bill should be defeated before any damage is done,” Johnson concluded in his op-ed.
Sean Moran is a congressional reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SeanMoran3.