Texas OKs Big Boost in Wholesale Electricity Rate | KERA News

Texas OKs Big Boost in Wholesale Electricity Rate

A state commission has approved a 50 percent increase in the wholesale electricity price cap in a move it hopes will spur construction of more power plants.

The Texas Public Utility Commission voted Thursday to raise the cap on Aug. 1.

And this could be just the start. Commissioners are considering, but aren't yet expected to vote on, tripling the wholesale price starting in summer of 2013.

Officials say the state must boost generating capacity to meet growing demand and avoid rolling blackouts during peak periods like hot summer days. But industry and consumer groups warn it could raise costs by billions of dollars that could eventually mean higher electric bills for Texas households. And they say there's no guarantee the higher rates will result in new construction.

AP

Lockheed Martin machinists approve new labor deal

Lockheed Martin machinists have approved a new labor deal that includes a $2,000 bonus and annual pay increases starting at 3 percent the first year.

Members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers voted Thursday at Cowtown Coliseum in the Fort Worth Stockyards. Details of the vote weren't immediately available.

The four-year agreement doesn't change basic health care plans. But workers hired after July 2, the deadline for ratification, wouldn't get traditional pensions. Instead, they would have a retirement savings plan and contributions from Lockheed Martin.

Members of Machinists Local 776 went on strike April 23 after union members rejected an offer that would have raised health care costs and eliminated pensions for new hires. Local 776 represents about 3,600 striking workers.

AP

Retail gasoline prices drop 8 cents across Texas

Retail gasoline prices have dropped an average 8 cents across Texas during the first full week of summer.

AAA Texas on Thursday reports the average price at the pump has fallen to $3.20 per gallon.

The association survey found that the national average cost for gasoline has dipped a dime, to settle at $3.47 per gallon.

El Paso has the most expensive gasoline statewide, at $3.37 per gallon. AAA Texas found that Beaumont has the cheapest gasoline, at $3.14 per gallon.

Experts say concern about the global economy continues to affect future oil demand, putting downward pressure on prices.

AAA has predicted about 3 million Texans plan to travel over the Fourth of July holiday period.

AP

Dirt crime: Wichita Falls seeking plant thieves

Some thefts in a North Texas city have police truly digging for clues.

Police in Wichita Falls say someone has been stealing ornamental grasses and flowers from the city's plant beds.

Police said Wednesday that more than 40 plant beds recently have been hit, at a cost of more than $7,500 to the city.

Police are asking for the public's help in locating whoever has been swiping the decorative plants.

Conviction can mean up to two years in state jail and a fine of as much as $10,000.

AP