ReSource, Volume 13, 2001 Page: 31
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with real-world problems - it's the com-
mitment we make as an urban, civic-
Along with its immediate resources, the
center brings together experts from the
various disciplines of the university, from
the Survey Research Center to the Depart-
ment of Sociology, to determine outcomes
for each problem.
"We're putting UNT out there and creat-
ing an awareness of the breadth of resources
we can offer to communities," Clower says.
r In 1997, CEDR helped a
coalition of utilities make
the case to the Texas Leg-
islature that they should
not be left with stranded
costs after deregulation.
' The bill passed then should
help avert problems as
reality in 2002.
Since CEDR's creation in 1989 to conduct
economic analysis and public policy research,
its researchers have prepared more than 60
reports covering a broad range of issues
affecting the Metroplex and other Texas com-
munities. Topics include building new airports
and health care facilities and combating
homelessness. Each report takes from three
months to as much as a year to complete.
A prime example of CEDR's role in shap-
ing public policy can be found in its contribu-
tion to the debate over electric power
deregulation and the transition to a competi-
tive marketplace in Texas. In 1997, the center
was retained by a coalition of investor-owned
utilities, including TXU and Reliant, to help
nake the case that the historically regulated
companies should not be left with "stranded"
:osts in the aftermath of deregulation.
For decades, the utilities had invested
Millions of dollars in coal, gas and nuclear
generating plants, recovering these costs
through a guaranteed rate of return. With
deregulation, it was feared that revenues
might not be adequate to recover invest-
ments in some of these plants, resulting in
stranded costs. The worst outcome could
be bankruptcy for the utility companies
and disruption of service for consumers.
The center recommended that the deregu-
ation bill drafted by the Texas Legislature
include a provision assuring that investor-
owned utilities be able to recover any stranded
costs. The center also advised that the transi-
tion to a competitive retail marketplace for
electric power be both gradual and cautious,
to avoid problems such as the rolling blackouts
that have occurred in California.
"Our study was distributed to every mem-
ber of the Texas Legislature, and I testified
before several committees about our findings
and recommendations," says Weinstein.
Deregulation becomes a reality in Texas in
2002, and the bill passed in 1997 guarantees
that investor-owned utilities will be able to
recover any stranded costs.
Other center studies have been used to
draw in new industry from outside the state.
A CEDR study conducted for the city of
Dallas on the technology industry and tech-
nology workers is being used as a marketing
tool to draw major companies to Texas.
In the Dallas-Fort Worth area, the center
performed a survey establishing the needs of
the technology industry and determining the
resources the area has to offer - more than
230,000 trained workers. North Texas com-
munities used the survey to attract high-tech
companies to the Alliance Airport area.
The center has conducted multiple eco-
nomic studies for other regions of the state,
including the Permian Basin. These studies
are used to determine what industries the
area is best able to accommodate and then
to draw in those new industries.
In addition to determining ways regions
can attract industry, the center helps devel-
opers show communities the potential posi-
tive effects they can bring to the area,
For example, developers asked CEDR to do
an economic study on creating a new retire-
ment community, Robson Ranch, now open
near Denton. The study found that the retire-
ment community would bring in new income
from retired seniors with more leisure time to
shop, volunteer and potentially return to
school to further their educations. Construc-
tion alone was estimated to bring $1.8 billion
to Denton County.
While the center's projects vary to accom-
modate the needs of each client, its theme
remains constant. Weinstein and Clower say
the goal is to bring clarity to the issues faced
by local communities by offering real-world
research that answers real problems.
"It's our obligation as a state-supported
institution to use our intellectual resources
to meet public needs," Weinstein says. '
Isr I 31
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University of North Texas. ReSource, Volume 13, 2001, periodical, 2001; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc29774/m1/31/: accessed December 12, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting University Relations, Communications & Marketing department for UNT.