Abbott Signs Legislation to Improve Texas Power Grid


AUSTIN, TX -- After Texans were failed by the state's power supply during the massive winter storm, Governor Abbott signed two new bills that seek to remedy some of the failures.

The two pieces of legislation, Senate Bill 2 and Senate Bill 3, implement changes to the state's electric grid operator, ERCOT, and implement new changes.

After the massive outages left communities without power for days, ERCOT came under fire for deciding to offload millions of households from the grid.

The bills will require additional regulatory agencies to develop the tools needed to upgrade infrastructure in the state's electricity supply chain before the next massive weather event.

The first bill, SB2, makes a change to the ERCOT board by reducing the number of seats from 16 to 11 and allowing the governor, lieutenant governor, and speaker of the House to play an important role in appointing board members for the selection committee. Eight of the eleven board members will be fully independent.

ERCOT members were usually selected by nominating a committee comprised of ERCOT members or were selected by companies that participate in the electricity market.

During the winter storm, at least five of the members of ERCOT -- including the chair -- lived out of state. The five members subsequently resigned as a result of the problems caused by the storms. The president and CEO of ERCOT, Bill Magness, was also fired. All members will now be required to live in Texas.

Senate Bill 3 will address some of the necessary changes needed to ensure Texans don't lose power during major weather events. The legislation requires all power generators that sell electricity in the Texas market to comply with weather emergency preparedness standards determined by the Public Utility Commission. 

This rule will only apply to some natural gas facilities that would be required to weatherize. The facilities required to make the changes will be those deemed as critical. The standards for these facilities would be set by the Texas Railroad Commission.

The bill also creates the Texas Energy Reliability Council to improve coordination between state agencies and industry during extreme weather emergencies and extended power outages. 

With the creation of the Electricity Supply Chain Mapping Committee, the state will have the committee map the state's power supply chain and identify the critical infrastructure sources that need to be updated.

Texans will also receive a "Power Outage Alert" whenever the power supply in the state may be inadequate to meet demand.

SB3 also requires state regulators and electric utilities to determine how rolling blackouts will work during future energy emergencies.

"During the winter storm, too many Texans were left without heat or power for days on end, and I immediately made reforming ERCOT and weatherizing the power system emergency items," said Governor Abbott. "We promised not to leave the session until we fixed these problems, and I am proud to say that we kept that promise. These laws will improve the reliability of the electric grid and help ensure these problems never happen again. Thank you to Senators Kelly Hancock and Charles Schwertner and Representative Chris Paddie for your leadership on these important issues." 

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