Texas May Increase Wholesale Electricity Rates | KERA News

Texas May Increase Wholesale Electricity Rates

With summer temperatures soaring, the Texas Public Utility Commission is set to vote on raising the price cap on wholesale electricity rates by 50 percent.

The hope is that the lure of more profits will spur construction of power plants to help the state meet future energy demands.

But the state's large industrial users claim the increase could cost billions of dollars. Consumer groups worry a wholesale increase will trickle down to monthly household electric bills for most Texans.

And Thursday's vote could be just the start. Commissioners are considering - but not yet voting on - a plan to triple the wholesale price starting in the summer of 2013.

AP

Texas jury convicts Saudi bomb plot suspect

A jury has convicted a Saudi man accused of collecting chemicals and bomb-making materials in hopes of carrying out a terrorist attack.

Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari is charged with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.

Aldawsari, who was legally in the U.S. on a student visa, was arrested in February 2011 after federal agents secretly searched his apartment near Texas Tech University and found bomb-making chemicals, wiring, a Hazmat suit and clocks.

Authorities also discovered Aldawsari's journal, handwritten in Arabic, in which he wrote he'd been planning a terror attack for years and that it was "time for jihad," or holy war, court documents show.

Attorneys for Aldawsari, who faces up to life in prison, claimed their client never came close to threatening anyone.

AP

Group fears weakening of school accountability

A coalition of top Texas business leaders says it's worried a public backlash against standardized testing could hurt the state's efforts to hold public schools more accountable.

The Texas Coalition for a Competitive Workforce blamed teachers and school administrators for "demonizing" standardized testing, and panicking parents.

At a news conference Wednesday, coalition leaders said they would oppose increasing future state education funding if standardized tests are weakened.

They accused education leaders of demanding that Texas water down its accountability system while also seeking more state funding for schools.

Their call comes after the new STAAR standardized testing system was rolled out and roundly criticized by some superintendents, parents' groups and lawmakers.

The Texas Legislature last summer cut about $5.4 billion from school funding, even though enrollment increases every year.

AP

Cancer research might get smaller slice of $3B pot

Texas bet $3 billion on curing cancer, but may soon spend less researching how to do it.

The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas is moving toward putting more taxpayer dollars into private startups and less into university labs starting as early as next year. The agency has so far awarded $647 million, three-quarters of which has gone to research.

Bill Gimson, executive director of CPRIT, says academic discoveries must be commercialized in order to get new drugs into the hands of cancer patients. He says giving more money to companies wouldn't betray the agency's original mission.

Agency leaders haven't determined how much more money might be set aside for commercialization. Gimson says the issue will likely go before the agency's oversight board in October.

AP