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Third electric retailer buckles under rising costs

In the third such incident in about as many weeks, another electric retailer has signaled that it cannot meet its financial obligations and is dumping its customers to a high-cost default company.

According to information obtained by the Star-Telegram, the HWY 3 electric company defaulted on its financial obligations at about 5 p.m. Tuesday. Operators at the grid, known as the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, began transferring more than 12,000 customers to default "provider of last resort" companies.

"ERCOT has been working closely with the Public Utility Commission of Texas and affected Market Participants to ensure an efficient and effective transfer of customers," according to a notice from the grid operator.

Last month, Bridgeport-based PreBuy Electric and Houston based National Power failed to meet financial obligations and dumped thousands of customers to provider of last resort companies. Also, spot prices on the wholesale electric market have spiked in the last week to some of the highest levels in memory.

Two lawmakers have expressed alarm about the recent market upheavals and have begun making inquiries with the Texas Public Utility Commission.

Customers getting switched to provider of last resort companies face dramatic increases in their electric bills.

Commissioners at the Public Utility Commission urge all such customers to make immediately switch to alternative electric plans.