News

Capitol Update: Reforming ERCOT

March 5, 2021

While this legislative session started out slow due to COVID concerns, it is now in full swing with last month’s winter storm bringing a flurry of action to Austin this week.

After the 25 hour joint hearing of House Energy and State Affairs committees, the committees tasked both themselves and the industries that testified to come back with solutions.  We have seen several members file legislation addressing the problem from multiple different angles.  As I said last week, I am committed to finding the best solutions to ensure that Texans never experience this type of failure again.

Bringing that promise to action, I filed HB 10 and HB 11.  HB 10 will reform the ERCOT board.  Texans were disturbed to find that many of the people on ERCOT’s board do not even live in Texas and were not experiencing the same hardships during the storm.  Many also felt that a board that nominates its own replacements, to be confirmed by another appointed board, was not accountable to Texans.

HB 10 would require that all members of the board, the CEO and President must reside within Texas.  It also changes the seats that had been held by non-Texans to appointments by the Governor, Lt. Governor, and Speaker of the House.  Finally, it adds a board member to represent Texas consumers.

HB 11 will mandate that all power generation plants have industry standard weatherization.  This was a suggestion after the 2011 storm, but as we found out, many operators did not weatherize their power plants sufficiently.   This weatherization will now be required.

These are not the only bills filed in the House in response to the winter storm.  Other bills would disallow the types of variable rate plans that have resulted in consumers receiving electric bills running into the thousands and ten thousands of dollars.  We are also considering legislation that would create a statewide emergency alert system, which would allow the state to communicate with Texans and update them on coming disasters, steps they could take to protect themselves and give situational updates throughout the event.

Many of these bills will come through the State Affairs Committee, which I chair, and I am committed to giving these bills a prompt hearing and continuing to work to find the best solutions to prevent this catastrophe from happening again.

I want to encourage you to reach out to me about issues that concern you or ideas for legislation that would help make Texas an even better place to live.  I can be reached at 512-463-0556 or district9.paddie@house.state.tx.us.

In addition, my district director, Joe Buck Crisp, will be spending time each month in every county to meet with you about legislative concerns and to help with issues you may be having with the state government.  Please contact our Marshall office at 903-935-1141 to find out when he will be in your town