Several bills have recently passed their initial readings in the Texas Senate and House of Representatives. They aim to strengthen the Texas electricity grid’s ability to cope with extreme weather. Some of these bills have created controversy. Critics have accused legislators of imposing burdens on the wind and solar sectors.
Senate Bill 3 would mandate all power generators, transmission lines, natural gas sites, and pipeline operators to weatherize for cold weather. Bill 1278 would require wind and solar operators to pay more for the maintenance of fossil fuel power reserves. This would cover potential declines in renewable energy output.
Bill 3 received unanimous support in the Senate. The House of Representatives is now reviewing it. This bill includes a ban on indexed electricity plans, which offer wholesale electricity prices. Wholesale prices spiked during the February storms and left some with thousands of dollars of energy bills.
If the bill passes, the Public Utilities Commission would have six months to draft rules on the required weatherization measures. The Railroad Commission, which regulates the oil and gas sector, would have a similar timeframe to create its own winterization guidelines.
State Senator Charles Schwertner introduced the bill. He explains, “There was a multitude of failures, and we’re fixing the problems.”
Senate Bill 2 would change the governance of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas. It would also strengthen oversight mechanisms. One of the changes that has received the most attention would require all ERCOT board members to live in Texas.