Texas Senators Advance ERCOT bill

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The Electronic Reliability Council or ERCOT is back in the news cycle this week after the company asked millions of Texans to try to conserve their energy because of the low supply and high demand on the power grid. 

In a tweet on April 1, ERCOT urged consumers to “reduce their electricity use.” 

Later that evening, ERCOT lifted their “energy conservation appeal.” 

In a press release published on Wednesday, ERCOT Vice-President of Grid Planning and Operations Woody Rickerson said, “we may see tight grid conditions due to the large number of generators out of service for planned and forced maintenance combined with low wind and solar output forecasted for today.”

ERCOT said 33,000 of megawatts of generation are down because of maintenance. 

On that same day the Texas Senate passed Senate Bill 2 that gives the state more governance over ERCOT and their board of operations. 

The Senate documents on the bill read that the ERCOT chairman and board members would be required to live in Texas and be approved by the Senate.

In the Texas Senate session, Republican and Democratic senators both seemed to agree on the terms of the bill. 

Sen. Jose Menendez even argued that residents in Texas should get a reward for working with ERCOT to keep the electric grid stronger. 

“Our constituents should benefit for doing the right thing,” he said. “I get frustrated when we tell them to help us out in the summer, but how do we help them?” he said. “Too many times I feel like we’re here to help the biggest of the players but I want us to help even everyday citizens.” 

The bill also states that any procedural changes ERCOT wants to make has to be approved by the Public Utility Commission. 

Lt. Governor Dan Patrick issued a statement after the bill was passed thanking his colleagues: 

“Immediately following Winter Storm Uri, I pledged that I would get to the bottom of the power outages that caused so much suffering and death across Texas and do whatever needed to be done to fix it. The need for ERCOT reform was an obvious first step. Senate Bill 2 mandates that all ERCOT board members reside in Texas and that the CEO of ERCOT and the five unaffiliated members of the board be appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Texas Senate. I congratulate Sen. Hancock and the Texas Senate for their passage of this bill and for their continued work in investigating the causes of the February outages and the changes that need to be made to prevent similar problems going forward.”

In Feb. of this year, Gov. Gregg Abbott also declared an overhaul of ERCOT after a mismanagement of the grid during the historic winter freeze. 

Texans first became familiar with ERCOT after the power grid shut down statewide and left families without electricity for days during a snowstorm. At least 111 people have died from winter storm related deaths since April, according to a report by the state department of health services.

Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

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