Bill Requiring Power Generators to Prep for Temps Passes Committee

A bill that would require the state’s power generators to prepare for extreme temperatures is one step closer to becoming law after making it out of a Texas Senate committee.

Senate Bill 3 doesn’t just require weatherization, though — it also sets up the framework for overseeing this weatherization process.

Addressing the shortcomings of the state’s electrical grid became a paramount concern for lawmakers and officials statewide after Winter Storm Uri brought the grid to the point of near-collapse, and left millions statewide without electricity for days, and in some cases, weeks.

The Texas House approved a slate of bills earlier this month that address many of the things SB3 does, with a few differences — including that it only addresses weatherization by electrical providers, and the senate bill addresses natural gas providers as well.

The senate bill also sets out a penalty for not following weatherization rules — a fine of up to $1 million for each time a provider fails to weatherize. It does not, however, discuss how the effort will be funded. Additionally, wholesale retail providers such as Griddy would be banned, and a statewide emergency alert system would be created for use during large blackouts.

Oversight and rulemaking would be handled by the Texas Railroad Commission and the Public Utility Commission. The bill also establishes a Texas Energy Reliability Council with a board that would include members from the Railroad Commission, the PUC, ERCOT, and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

State Sen. Nathan Johnson, whose district includes Preston Hollow and the Park Cities, said that the bill was a step, but more needed to be done.

“It represents a significant step towards improving the adequacy and reliability of energy production in Texas,” he said in a series of tweets Thursday. “It ain’t perfect though. There is work yet to be done.”

“I’m convinced we’re making a big mistake by attacking a problem that isn’t THE problem,” he added. “As we structurally require better communication between the RRC, ERCOT and the PUC, should we include the TCEQ? Enforcement requires resources. We’ve failed in the past. We have to get it right this time.”

Also of note:

  • Dallas County health officials reported 302 new cases of COVID-19 Friday and 15 deaths, and 312 cases and 16 deaths on Saturday. Among the dead are two Dallas men — one in his 30s and one in his 40s — who died at their homes.
  • Gov. Greg Abbott said Friday that 10 million COVID-19 vaccines have been administered to Texans across the state, with more than 30% of eligible Texans having received a vaccine. He also said the state has requested an extension of the Federally Supported Community Vaccination Centers in Arlington, Dallas, and Houston.
  • The Texas Department of State Health Services said that more than one million first doses of COVID-19 vaccine will be shipped to providers this week, with 818,410 doses to 779 providers in 202 counties. More than 200,000 additional first doses are expected to be available to pharmacy locations and federally-qualified health centers directly from the federal government. To see how many doses be shipped to local providers, click here.

Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson, Digital Editor at People Newspapers, cut her teeth on community journalism, starting in Arkansas. Recently, she's taken home a few awards for her writing, including first place for her tornado coverage from the National Newspapers Association's 2020 Better Newspaper Contest, a Gold award for Best Series at the 2018 National Association of Real Estate Editors journalism awards, a 2018 Hugh Aynesworth Award for Editorial Opinion from the Dallas Press Club, and a 2019 award from NAREE for a piece linking Medicaid expansion with housing insecurity. She is a member of the Education Writers Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Association of Real Estate Editors, the News Leaders Association, the News Product Alliance, and the Online News Association. She doesn't like lima beans, black licorice or the word synergy. You can reach her at bethany.erickson@peoplenewspapers.com.

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