Subscribe to receive our Floor Reports covering all the action on the Texas House and Senate floor!
Relating to the authority of certain municipalities to provide sewer service to areas within the municipal boundaries without obtaining a certificate of public convenience and necessity.
SB 789, if passed, would add a new section to the Water Code (Section 13.2475) titled “Certificates of Public Convenience and Necessity to Provide Sewer Service in Certain Municipalities”. This section of code is added specifically to deal with the area around Lake Palestine.
This is made clear in the first part of the proposed section as the municipalities to which the section would apply, must have a population of more than 95,000, must be located in a county which borders Lake Palestine, must be located within a county with a population of more than 200,000, must own and operate a utility which provides sewer service, and has an area within the boundaries of the municipality that is certified by another retail public utility to provide sewer service.
SB 789 would allow a municipality which meets these requirements to provide sewer service to an area entirely within the boundaries of the municipality without first obtaining a certificate of public convenience and necessity from the Public Utility Commission. This would apply independent of whether the area to be served is serviced by another retail public utility.
The municipality would also be required to announce its intent to provide service to the retail public utility in question at least thirty days before sewer service is to begin. Once this announcement has been received the public utility would be permitted to file a petition with the commission to decertify its certificate for the area to be served by the municipality. It would also be permitted to discontinue service to the area in question so long as there is no interruption of service on the part of the consumer. This would allow the consumers to choose between the two service providers.
SB 789 is beneficial in that it will allow City of Tyler residents who live in an area that was annexed by the city, and who are paying municipal wastewater service fees, to use the municipal services if they so choose. For that reason we support this bill as beneficial for consumer choice which is in alignment with limited government. It is worth noting that this bill would not allow a municipal utility to force an existing provider out of business; it simply allows customers in the affected area to choose between the two.