The pervasive lack of accountability at ERCOT, the organization that manages the Texas power grid, has drawn the attention of one of the state’s leading newspapers. In an April 7 editorial, The Dallas Morning News endorsed two important bills that would help reform ERCOT (known formally as the Electric Reliability Council of Texas) and refine the overall electricity market.
HB 2134, by state Rep. Burt Solomons, gives the Public Utility Commission more authority over ERCOT’s annual budget and borrowing. Additionally, HB 2134 would bar outgoing PUC commissioners from working for ERCOT for at least two years, and increases potential fines against electric companies that violate ERCOT’s reliability standards.
HB 2133, another Solomons bill, would require companies found to have improperly manipulated the wholesale energy market to surrender their ill-gotten gains. The legislation closes a loophole that allowed a major generator to walk away in 2008 with about $4 million from alleged market violations — even after paying a settlement in the case. Check out the RechargeTexas video that touches upon the problem here.
In their current form, both HB 2134 and HB 2133 represent steps forward for Texas consumers. Both bills are working their way through the legislative process in Austin. You can read the text of HB 2134 here, and the text of HB 2133 here.
Is a policy analyst for TCAP, a coalition of cities and other political subdivisions that purchase electricity in the deregulated market for their own governmental use. Because high energy costs can impact municipal budgets and the ability to fund essential services, TCAP, as part of its mission, actively promotes affordable energy policies. High energy prices also place a burden on local businesses and home consumers.