The Texas House of Representatives is making it a priority to target ERCOT and better prepare for future storms. Its leading members have introduced a series of bills addressing the statewide power crisis that left more than 4 million Texans without electricity last month during unusually harsh winter storms.
The seven bills, filed by Republicans and Democrats, emerged from hours-long legislative hearings into the power outages in late February, when lawmakers questioned regulatory leaders, energy industry executives and other stakeholders about the crisis.
The proposals represent the first phase of the chamber's response to the power outages. They address weatherproofing energy infrastructure and improving co-ordination between state agencies during a disaster, among other issues.
But the bills do not dictate who will pay for weatherproofing at power plants and they do not make sweeping changes to the state's deregulated energy market.
Among other measures there are proposals to restructure the board of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, harden facilities and transmission systems for extreme weather, creation of a statewide disaster alert system to contact Texans about impending disasters and extreme weather events, a system to improve co-ordination during disasters by creating a council of leaders from different agencies (from ERCOT, the Public Utility Commission, the Railroad Commission and the Texas Department of Emergency Management), weatherproofing the natural gas infrastructure, and protect ratepayers from gouging by energy suppliers during a crisis.
- On 4 March the ERCOT Board of Directors ordered the Corporate Secretary to exercise the 60 days’ termination notice to ERCOT president and CEO Bill Magness. Mr Magness will continue to serve as president and CEO and work with state leaders and regulators on potential reforms to ERCOT. The ERCOT Board is expected to begin an immediate search for a new president and CEO. Mr Magness has already submitted an initial priority list of improvement items that the organisation will begin immediately addressing.