The TX Lege Still Wrangling With Energy Bills

The Texas legislature has until the end of May to decide how to resolve the issues made apparent during the unprecedented February freeze when the state’s power grid effectively collapsed, leaving millions without power in the cold and more than 100 residents dead.

Nothing consequential has been ironed out yet as the House took a break Thursday and said they wouldn't return until Sunday, quibbling with the Senate over pet projects.

One bill has made it to Governor Abbott’s desk for a signature, but it concerns a matter involving California policy with questionable if any impact on Texas.

Senate Bill 3, the omnibus bill with most of the plans, is winding through House committees anticipating a vote soon.

Policy experts on Thursday laid out the issues being tackled and ideas being considered. Beth Garza, with decades of experience monitoring ERCOT and Texas power, outlined the problems that led to the downfall. Winter preparation was insufficient, she said, at all levels, from electricity, natural gas pipelines, water, roads and Texans unaccustomed to brutal winter conditions. She called the relationship between natural gas and electric systems one of co-dependency, and highlighted the inability of utilities to rotate between different types of available power sources when demand exceeded supply by 40%. And Garza said though she always seeks a market solution, there was too much reliance on the market to right the ship as it was going down.

The Texas legislature will get down to brass tacks of negotiations in the next ten days as another hurricane season and hot, dry August approach, possibly straining the system again. The deadline is May 31.

photo: Getty Images

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