NEWS: TEXAS HOUSE PASSES REFORMS FOR PUC AND GRID WEATHERIZATION
The Texas House on Monday was working hard ahead of a major deadline to pass key policy initiatives supported by many Texans. Both Senate Bill 2 and Senate Bill 3, both dealing with aspects of utility reliability, passed the House before a Tuesday deadline to consider Senate Bills.
Texas House members were working past midnight on Sunday, sending the Constitutional Carry bill to the Governor's desk before adjourning the nearly 12-hour long session on the Floor. On Monday, they returned prepared to deliver on policy victories related to one of the governor's emergency items: electricity reliability and reform of the agencies that oversee those utility services.
Senate Bill 2 address the operations of the Public Utility Commission (PUC) and ERCOT, bringing about sweeping changes to expand the boards, to improve communication in times of disaster or emergency response, as well as other changes to improve efficacy at the agency. Sponsored by state Rep. Chris Paddie, "The bill would create a system in which Texans could trust by balancing expertise with the needs of consumers, who were the most harmed during and after the winter storm. By requiring Texas residency of all ERCOT organization board members, the bill would ensure members had a personal stake in the Texas electricity market," according to legislative analysis of the bill.
Senate Bill 3, also sponsored by Rep. Paddie, provides for the preparation for, prevention of, and response to extreme weather emergencies and extended power outages. The bill establishes related requirements for the PUC, ERCOT, the Railroad Commission, the Texas Division of Emergency Management, and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
Specifically, the bill would provide for:
the mapping of the state's electricity supply chain;
require weather emergency preparedness for natural gas, electric, and water service entities;
the establishment of the Texas Energy Disaster Reliability Council and the State Energy Plan Advisory Committee and create a power outage alert; and
certain administrative and civil penalties.
Both SB 2 and SB 3 are heading back to the Senate, where the upper chamber can concur and send the bills to the Governor's desk; or, they will request a conference committee to iron out the differences between the House and Senate versions.