Lake Travis - Westlake Edition | May 2021

Bills to follow

Reliability Council, or TERC, would be created with members from the Public Utility Commission, ERCOT, the Texas Railroad Commission, the Texas Commission on Environmen- tal Quality and governor-appointed oil-gas industry representatives. These entities were working in silos during the storm without uid com- munication, Schwertner said. “We are very much wanting to reinvigorate the coordination and communication among market par- ticipants and regulatories to make sure this never happens again,” Schwertner said. State senators unanimously approved SB 3 on March 29. Now, it heads to the House State Aairs committee, of which Howard is a member, for consideration and approval before it can be sent to Abbott for a nal signature. As the state grows, so will demand on the state’s power grid, Schwertner said. And its reliability is ever more important, particularly on the many days when temperatures reach above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The bill would apply to extreme heat, hurricanes or whenever there is unbal- anced supply and demand, he said. “The most often times when you have a signicant strain on the grid is every August and in the summer months,” Schwertner said. ERCOT reform Over two-thirds of Texans lost electricity at some point in the storm for an average of 42 hours, according to a survey from the Uni- versity of Houston’s Hobby School of Public Affairs. Nearly half of all Texans lost access to running water with an average loss of 52 hours, per the survey. To address this, the Senate passed SB 2, an ERCOT reform bill, on April 14. The bill is now under House committee consideration before the other chamber passes it. The bill increases oversight of the nonprot that controls the state’s power grid and reforms ERCOT’s board, including requiring its mem- bers to live in Texas. This was pre- viously an issue as ve of the 16 members did not reside in Texas when the storm hit, according to other news reports. The governor would also appoint the board chair and the board’s unaf- liated members; the Senate would approve the governor’s selections. According to the survey, 74% of Texans disapproved of ERCOT’s


low-numbered bills—often bipar- tisan—that address energy board reforms, government communica- tion in emergencies, preparation for extreme weather and other issues that arose from the February storm. The storm hit west Travis County residents particularly hard as treacher- ous ice and snowonHill Country roads stranded many residents in homes for days without power andwater service. State Rep. Donna Howard, DAustin, who represents West Lake Hills in the Legislature, said the winter storm was a “crisis” that resulted from a lack of communication among key state government agencies. The lack of communication was particularly evident when looking at the wide- spread power outages that were required to keep the state’s energy grid from collapse, she said. “One of the biggest things we saw as a result of thewinter crisis was that the right arm didn’t know what the left armwas doing,” she said. “And so we ended up with all kinds of unin- tended consequences. We turned o the electricity to the gas plants, and the gas producers could not get gas to the electric generators ... that’s mind-boggling what happened.” To address these and other issues, Gov. Greg Abbott on Feb. 16 declared reform of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas to be an emergency legislative item and called on the Legislature to inves- tigate the council to prevent the statewide issue from recurring. ERCOT, which was largely criticized for its role in the February storm, manages the flow of electric power to more than 26 million Texas cus- tomers and represents about 90% of the state’s electric load. The rst of the major bills to ow from this legislative session is Sen- ate Bill 3, authored by state Sen. Charles Schwertner, RGeorgetown. It adds winterization requirements to energy-generating infrastruc- ture with a $1 million ne per day for noncompliance, he said. The bill would take eect Sept. 1, if approved. Municipal-owned utili- ties, such as in Georgetown and Aus- tin, and energy companies, such as Pedernales Electric Cooperative and Oncor Electric Delivery, would not be treated dierently. The bill also addresses issues raised by Howard and Schwertner concerning communication. A board, known as the Texas Energy

These eight bills are direct responses to the February winter storm and have already passed the Texas House or Senate. There are more storm-related bills, but these low-numbered bills involve leadership reform, increased communication and energy regulation. Bills of high importance are typically given low bill numbers. After a bill passes the House or the Senate, it moves to the opposite chamber for consideration. If the second chamber has amendments, the bill returns to the rst chamber for a vote and then goes to the governor. If no amendments are oered, then it goes to the governor’s desk.


SENATE BILL 2 Passed Senate April 14 (30 yea, 1 nay) Author: (R) Sen. Kelly Hancock Reforms the Electric Reliability Council of Texas board of directors to require members to live in state and gives the governor appointment authority over ve unaliated board members; increases oversight on the nonprot Last action: House referred to State Aairs Committee April 20 SENATE BILL 3 Passed Senate March 29 (31 yea) Author: (R) Sen. Charles Schwertner A dds winterization requirements for energy-generating infrastructure; reforms how energy entities communicate Last action: House referred to State Aairs Committee on April 7 HOUSE BILL 10 Passed House March 31 (149 yea) Authors: (R) Rep. Chris Paddie, (D) Rep. Ana Hernandez Requires ERCOT board members to live in Texas Last action: Senate referred to Jurisprudence Committee on April 8 HOUSE BILL 11 Passed House March 31 with two amendments (149 yea) Authors: (R) Rep. Chris Paddie, (D) Rep. Ana Hernandez, (R) Rep. Steve Allison Requires weatherization of electric facilities Last action: Senate referred to Jurisprudence Committee on April 8 HOUSE BILL 12 Passed House March 31 (147 yea) Authors: (D) Rep. Richard Peña Raymond, (R) Rep. Chris Paddie, (D) Rep. Ana Hernandez, (R) Rep. Greg Bonnen, (R) Rep. Angie Chen Button Creates a statewide disaster alert system Last action: Senate referred to Jurisprudence Committee on April 8

HOUSE BILL 13 Passed House March 31 (149 yea) Author: (R) Rep. Chris Paddie Creates the Texas Energy Disaster Reliability Council to prevent extended natural gas supply failures or power outages, implement procedures to manage emergencies and other responsibilities Last action: Senate referred to Jurisprudence Committee on April 8 HOUSE BILL 16 Passed House March 31 with two amendments (116 yea, 31 nay) Authors: (D) Rep. Ana Hernandez, (R) Rep. Chris Paddie, (R) Rep. Todd Hunter, (D) Rep. Penny Morales Shaw Stops the sale of wholesale indexed products to residential customers Last action: Senate passed bill April 29 (29 yea, 2 nay) HOUSE BILL 17 Passed House March 31 (116 yea, 29 nay) Authors: (D) Rep. Joe Deshotel, (R) Rep. Chris Paddie, (D) Rep. Ron Reynolds, (D) Rep. Mary Perez, (R) Rep. Cody Harris Prevents restrictions of utility services and infrastructure based on the energy source Last action: Senate placed bill on intent calendar April 21





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