As Gov. Greg Abbott did not include strengthening Texas primary electrical system in his 11-point plan for the special legislative session that started earlier this month, lawmakers will be unable to approve new grid-related legislation. However, that didn’t stop a Senate committee from summoning the state’s top electricity and utility regulators to the Capitol on Tuesday morning to discuss the state of the power grid in the aftermath of June’s unexpected power plant outages. Following February’s deadly winter storm, lingering issues with the state’s energy infrastructure and plans to put legislation passed by lawmakers in the spring into effect.
The hearing on Tuesday was more of a status update on the power grid. Still, it was the first public opportunity for lawmakers to question the grid operator’s interim president, Brad Jones, and the Public Utility Commission’s three-member board, which oversees Jones and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas. All four regulators were appointed to replace officials fired following a winter storm that paralyzed the grid for days due to subfreezing temperatures.
Two weeks after the regular legislative session concluded in June, other senators questioned why some Texas power facilities went down unexpectedly, prompting ERCOT to advise Texans to turn up their thermostats amid a heatwave to save electricity. Following the February storm, energy experts highlighted worries about the state’s outdated electrical infrastructure, and state Sen.
Angela Paxton, R-McKinney, questioned grid officials about those fears. Finally, Jones admitted the issue, saying the state hasn’t “invested enough in portion of our generation fleet.”Jones unveiled a 60-point plan on Tuesday to restore lawmakers’ and the public’s faith in the electrical grid’s reliability. The proposal includes forcing energy company CEOs to sign a letter stating that their equipment is prepared to endure adverse weather.