Deregulation in the state of Texas began in January 2002 – and the number of customer complaints rose from 2,783 to 12,676 in that year, according to utility consulting firm Regulatory Compliance Services. Texas’ Public Utility Commission investigated the complaints and found violations in about 10% of cases.

Last year 16,913 complaints were received, about half of them related to billing concerns and 25% involving discontinued service. The highest number of complaints involved ‘slamming’ – the unauthorised switching of a customer’s service provider. Texas’ regulations do, however, have teeth – recently Energy America (trading in Texas as Direct Energy) was fined $750,000 for alleged misleading sales practices.