28 June 2021

Capitol Update: Reforming ERCOT

As you may have heard, Governor Greg Abbott recently announced that legislators will need to shelve their summer plans as we will be back in Austin on July 8th to convene our first Special Session of the 87th Legislature. In Texas, a Special Session can only be called by the Governor, and the Legislature may only consider items the Governor adds to the agenda. And while we do not officially know what policy areas will be added to the call, I feel confident saying that we will be back tackling his Emergency Items that did not pass during the 140-day Regular Session. Once the items are named, I will be sure to update you with more specific information.

With that, here’s an update from your State Capitol…

Capitol Update

When the legislative session began in January, members expected that one issue would dominate all policy and budget conversations — the COVID-19 Pandemic. This was true until the arrival of Winter Storm Uri on February 13th. For this week’s examination of noteworthy legislation from the most recent session, we’ll analyze some of the major pieces of legislation which attempt to reform how we manage and maintain our electrical grid in Texas.

The first, Senate Bill 2, took steps to reform the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which manages the flow of electricity to the vast majority of Texas consumers. Among the reforms was a requirement that all board members reside in Texas, and that those board members have expertise in industry-specific areas. To further protect the consumer, we’ve given strict instructions that no board member should be in a position to benefit financially from the decisions made by the ERCOT board. The second piece of legislation, Senate Bill 3, works to ensure our state is better prepared when the next natural disaster strikes. Of particular interest is the requirement that all utilities will pay hefty fines when they are not prepared for severe weather events, as well as the directive which prevents the lengthy rolling blackouts that many Texans experienced and which sadly caused some to lose their life.

In the coming months, more will be revealed about how we could have prevented the unacceptable failure of our electric grid in Texas. When those findings are released, it is my belief the Legislature should quickly act on those recommendations as consumers should rightfully expect our electric delivery system to work when we need it most.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office if we can help you in any way. My district office may be reached at (936) 634-2762. Additionally, I welcome you to follow along on my Official Facebook Page, where I will be posting regular updates on what’s happening in your State Capitol and sharing information that could be useful to you and your family: https://www.facebook.com/RepTrentAshby/.

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