AT THE CAPITOL
News from the 88th legislative session
QUOTE OF NOTE
ERCOT projects record demand for electricity this summer
NUMBER TO KNOW That’s how many Texans died from fentanyl overdoses in 2022, according to Gov. Greg Abbott. 2,012 UPDATES FROM LOCAL LEGISLATORS SENATE BILL 14, WHICH WOULD BAN TRANSITION-RELATED TREATMENTS FOR TRANSGENDER MINORS. THE TEXAS LEGISLATURE PASSED THE BILL, AND GOV. GREG ABBOTT HAS UNTIL JUNE 18 TO SIGN IT. “WE WILL NEVER STOP FIGHTING ALONGSIDE OUR PARTNERS TO CREATE A FUTURE WHERE TRANSGENDER YOUTH, ADULTS AND THEIR FAMILIES ARE SAFE AND FREE TO EXIST IN THEIR OWN HOME STATE.” MARTI BIER, VICE PRESIDENT OF PROGRAMS AT THE TEXAS FREEDOM NETWORK, ON THE TEXAS HOUSE’S PASSAGE OF
BY HANNAH NORTON
hot outside, but the sun has set and winds begin to die down. “We will continue to use every tool available to keep the lights on and the AC running this summer,” said Peter Lake, chair of the Public Utility Commission of Texas, which regulates ERCOT. As a result, Texans could be asked to conserve energy or even face brownouts this summer. Brownouts typically occur when utility companies reduce the flow of electricity to certain areas to prevent a large-scale blackout. Lights may dim or flicker, but homes will still receive power. The report states emergency condi- tions are possible when three things happen simultaneously: extreme heat; low renewable energy output; and widespread outages at dispatch- able power plants. Vegas said there is a less than 1% chance of this happening, but officials will communicate with Texans if voluntary conservation is recommended or the grid reaches emergency conditions.
SUPPLY AND DEMAND
Texans could experience brownouts due to record demand for power this summer, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas predicted. In a report released May 3, Texas’ power grid operator anticipated peak demand could reach 82,739 megawatts on the hottest days. Due to over two years of reforms following Winter Storm Uri, ERCOT CEO Pablo Vegas said the power grid is “more reliable than ever.” But as Texas’ population continues to grow, officials said demand for electricity will begin to outpace the amount of available dispatchable power, which comes from sources such as natural gas and coal. This means Texas will need to rely on renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, to keep the lights on. Unlike dispatchable sources, energy regulators cannot always count on the sun and wind to be there. Vegas said the highest-risk periods for the grid will be after 9 p.m., when it remains
During the hottest days this summer, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas expects demand for electricity could surpass 82,000 megawatts. Peak demand in 2022 was 80,038 MW.
Expected peak demand 82,739 MW
Expected total supply 97,138 MW*
*TOTAL PROJECTED SUPPLY OF DISPATCHABLE AND RENEWABLE ENERGY THIS SUMMER SOURCE: ELECTRIC RELIABILITY COUNCIL OF TEXAS/COMMUNITY IMPACT TERMS TO KNOW Megawatts: a unit of power equal to 1 million watts. A MW can power 200 homes during peak demand. Dispatchable energy: power sources such as coal, natural gas and nuclear that come from energy plants.
House fails to advance 'raise the age' gun bill
School district tax bill would exclude renewable energy
SAM HARLESS Spring Republican Elected: 2018
In an initial victory for the victims’ families and other gun safety advo- cates, the House Select Committee on Community Safety, which deals with gun-related legislation, passed the bill out of the committee with an 8-5 vote May 8. Republican Reps. Sam Harless, of Spring, and Justin Holland, of Rockwall, voted with Democrats in favor of the bill. Despite the committee’s vote, the bill was not placed on the House cal- endar and was not be debated by the full chamber. Texas House Democrats attempted to add the legislation to other bills through amendments May 11, but the amendments were voted down.
BY HANNAH NORTON
In an unexpected vote May 8, a Texas House committee advanced a bill that would raise the minimum age to purchase semi-automatic weapons. However, lawmakers did not send the bill to the House for consideration by the May 11 deadline. House Bill 2744, by Rep. Tracy King, D-Batesville, proposed to raise the minimum age required to purchase semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21. The bill has been pushed for months by the families of the 19 students and two teachers who were killed during a mass shooting in Uvalde last year.
HOUSE BILL 5334 would permit the creation of the Cypress Creek Drainage Improvement District if approved. This district would consist of five temporary directors until an election could be held no later than September 2027. It would not have the powers of eminent domain or be able to impose a tax or issue bonds. The bill, authored by state Rep. Sam Harless, R-Spring, passed the House on May 2 and was pending in the Senate as of press time.
BY HANNAH NORTON
The Texas House passed a bill May 5 that would give corporations significant discounts on school district property taxes. House Bill 5, by Rep. Todd Hunter, R-Corpus Christi, would replace Chapter 313, a popular corporate tax break program that expired in December. Hunter’s proposal is aimed at attracting major businesses to the state by limiting their property taxes over a 10-year period. The bill would provide incentives for projects that require “an invest- ment in a school district in Texas of more than $1 billion.” Those include supply chain infrastructure, manu- facturing and power grid reliability. Notably, renewable energy projects likely would not qualify for the tax breaks. The House approved HB 5 with a 120-24 vote. The bill is under discussion by the Senate and must be passed by May 29.
JOHN WHITMIRE Houston Democrat Elected: 1983
SENATE BILL 402 would force courts to prioritize murder and capital murder cases over other criminal trials. Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg supported the measure, noting it would cut down on the wait time for such cases amid the county’s backlog. This bill, authored by state Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, passed both the Texas House and Senate as of press time.
OUT OF TIME
House Bill 2744, which proposed to raise the legal age to purchase semi-automatic weapons in Texas, will not be considered by the full Texas House this session.
May 11, 11:59 p.m.
May 9, 10 p.m.
All House bills had to be debated before midnight on May 12.
The House Select Committee on Community Safety passed HB 2744.
HB 2744 was not added to the final House calendar for debate May 11.
SOURCES: TEXAS LEGISLATURE ONLINE, TEXAS LEGISLATIVE REFERENCE LIBRARY/COMMUNITY IMPACT
CYPRESS EDITION • JUNE 2023
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