Power Play: Texas Considers Energy 'Market Redesign'

Weeks after a new law took effect requiring weatherization of Texas power plants, the state Public Utility Commission is considering more changes to the state's power grid. The PUC meets this week to discuss proposals to "redesign" the Texas energy market in order to make it more efficient in the wake of last winter's storms that caused mass outages.

Texas leaders, including Gov. Greg Abbott and the head of the PUC, have assured the public that there will be no repeat of last winter's disaster. But critics remain skeptical that everything is fixed. Some are even more skeptical of this proposed "market redesign." Alison Silverstein, a former PUC advisor who now speaks on behalf of the Advanced Power Alliance, warns all of this will cost consumers more. "The securitization (of power plants) itself, and all the measures authorized by the legislature, we think, added about a nine percent increase on electric bills, and more for gas," she told an online news conference.

Silverstein and other advocates are calling for the PUC to slow down, noting that overhauling the state's energy system is a complicated process with a lot at stake. "This is really no longer a game of meet peak load and call it victory, this is about extraordinary changes in grid operation and resource availability," she says. "Slowing down this process would create the opportunity for much more thorough public engagement and public input, stakeholder engagement and input, and feedback."

She warns that state leaders are rushing massive changes to the grid that could have unintended consequences and leave consumers with the bill. "Texas---the world's ninth largest economy---deserves a slower, more deliberative, and better informed process," says Silverstein.

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