AUSTIN, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – House Speaker Dade Phelan announced the first phase of the House’s legislative reforms to protect consumers and strengthen the state’s electric grid after last week’s marathon hearings examining the collapse of its electric infrastructure.
“I am proud the Texas House is leading the charge in protecting consumers, fortifying our grid, and creating clear lines of communication and authority during extreme weather events,” Phelan said in a statement. “We must take accountability, close critical gaps in our system, and prevent these breakdowns from ever happening again.”
Here are the seven bills members of the Texas House have filed and will file the following legislation:
HB 10 – Reforming Energy Reliability Council of Texas Leadership (Paddie)
HB 10 restructures the ERCOT board, replacing the unaffiliated members with members appointed by the Governor, Lt. Governor, and Speaker of the House. HB 10 also requires all board members to reside in the state of Texas and creates an additional ERCOT board member slot to represent consumer interests.
HB 11 – Protecting Consumers and Hardening Facilities for Extreme Weather (Paddie)
HB 11 requires electric transmission and generation facilities in this state to be weatherized against the spectrum of extreme weather Texas may face. Utilities will be required to reconnect service as soon as possible and prevent slower reconnections for low-income areas, rural Texas, and small communities.
HB 12 – Alerting Texans During Emergencies (Raymond)
HB 12 creates a statewide disaster alert system administered by Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) to alert Texans across the state about impending disasters and extreme weather events. The alerts will also provide targeted information on extended power outages to the state’s regions most affected. This system builds off the model used in Amber, Silver, and Blue Alert systems.
HB 13 – Improving Coordination During Disasters (Paddie)
HB 13 establishes a council composed of ERCOT, Public Utility Commission of Texas, Railroad Commission, and TDEM leaders to coordinate during a disaster. The committee will identify challenges with fuel supplies, repairs, energy operations and prevent service interruptions from the wellhead to the consumer.
HB 14 – Weatherizing Natural Gas Infrastructure (Goldman)
HB 14 requires the Railroad Commission to adopt rules requiring gas pipeline operators to implement measures that ensure service quality and reliability during an extreme weather emergency, which covers winter and heat wave conditions.
HB 16 – Defending Ratepayers (Hernandez)
HB 16 bans variable rate products like Griddy for residential customers. These types of speculative plans resulted exorbitant bills. This bill will provide consumer protection to residential customers while still allowing the competitive market to flourish.
HB 17 – Protecting Homeowner Rights (Deshotel)
HB 17 prevents any political subdivision or planning authority from adopting or enforcing an ordinance, regulation, code, or policy that would prohibit the connection of residential or commercial buildings to specific infrastructure based on the type or source of energy that will be delivered to the end user.
During last month’s winter storms, nearly half of the state’s power generation capacity went offline.
The extreme weather caused residents from Mississippi to Minnesota to crank up electric heaters and pushed demand for electricity beyond the worst-case scenarios planned for by grid operators. At the same time, many gas-fired power plants in Texas and other states were knocked offline because of icy conditions, and some plants appeared to suffer fuel shortages as natural gas demand spiked nationwide.