AUSTIN (Nexstar) — While Central Texas is still dealing with the aftermath of last week’s ice storm, state lawmakers are still addressing different problems revealed two years ago, after a severe winter storm in February 2021 led to the state power grid’s near-collapse.
Texas senators are weighing a proposed overhaul to the state’s electric grid Tuesday, in an effort to increase its reliability after the 2021 disaster led to extensive blackouts and contributed to hundreds of deaths.
The purpose of this hearing is to discuss proposed changes to the wholesale electric market design and the impact such changes will have on the reliability of the Texas electric grid. Furthermore, the Committee will discuss electricity outages resulting from recent weather events.
At the start of the Senate Business and Commerce Committee hearing, the vice chair acknowledged an elephant in the room — the notable absence of chairman Sen. Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown, after he was booked in Travis County Jail overnight on DWI charges.
“The chair, as you know, is not going to be able to be with us today,” Sen. Phill King, R-Weatherford said.
Schwertner has been one of the most vocal Republicans in criticizing the PCM model, citing concerns that it won’t guarantee new dispatchable generation “in a timely and cost-effective manner.”
In January, the Public Utility Commission of Texas approved a redesign of the state’s electric market, recommending a new model they said will improve grid reliability. But critics argue this model could pass on more costs to consumers.
The PUC unanimously approved a memo on Jan. 19, recommending the legislature adopts the “Performance Credit Mechanism” or PCM model. It’s a new market design that will essentially give power generators credit for producing more power when supply is low, ostensibly to incentivize the free market to produce more power when Texans need it.
In a Jan. 10 letter, Abbott argued the PCM best meets the legislature’s reliability requirements because “it is based on a reliability standard, incentivizes new dispatchable generation, and maintains Texas’ energy-only market.”
This is a developing story, check back for updates. Capitol Correspondent Monica Madden will have a full report on KXAN at 6 p.m. Ryan Chandler contributed to this report.
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