Utility Player Sought

The Texas Public Utilities Commission is looking for an agency to create a consumer-education campaign promoting the opening of the state’s energy market to alternative providers in 2002, the client said.
The contract will be one of the largest in the state for a government entity. The project will be funded at $12 million for the first 12 months of a four-year contract, and could lead to as much as $48 million for the period.
The commission plans to issue a request for proposal next month and select a shop in November, said Bob Bartels, customer education liaison at the TPUC in Austin, Texas. The review will be managed internally.
The TPUC is looking for an integrated marketing campaign that includes public relations, the creation of a Web site and traditional advertising. Shops may partner with specialists in these disciplines to provide a full slate of services.
“We certainly want as many qualified bidders as possible,” said Bartels. “Organizations that have
a good knowledge of the Texas
marketplace [are pre-ferred] . . . At this point, it doesn’t eliminate out-of-state agencies.”
The TPUC has hired a consultant to evaluate public-education campaigns in states such as Connecticut and Maryland, where competitive energy markets were introduced.
“Customer education has played an . . . important role in helping prepare customers for the changes that are coming,” Bartels said. The state’s effort has been temporarily tagged the “Texas Choice Program.”
The state currently licenses 10 private companies to supply energy to about 80 percent of the market. The rest of the market is serviced by utilities owned by municipalities or energy cooperatives. K