More than 4,500 filed House bills, more than 2,400 filed Senate Bills and still months to go before the 86th session of the Texas Legislature adjourns sine die. The session has now entered its middle months, with lawmakers working long hours in committee and important debates under way almost every day on the floor of the Texas House and Senate.
Lawmakers have filed more than 100 energy-related bills. Most will die before making it to the governor’s desk, but some will survive – and they could eventually influence the affordability and reliability of gas and electric service.
Here are a few of interest.
- House Bill 400, by state Rep. Tony Tinderholt, would create a “grid security council” whose members would monitor economic, environmental, regulatory and technological developments that may affect grid security. The legislation has received a hearing in the House State Affairs committee on March 25, but so far no vote. HB 400 is among about a half dozen House and Senate bills filed this year that relate to grid security.
- House Bill 2860, by state Rep. Richard Raymond, would create more rules for distributed generation and solar contractors. This is a consumer protection bill. HB 2680 received a hearing on March 25 in the House State Affairs committee, but no vote so far. The companion is Senate Bill 2066 by state Sen. Jose Menendez.
- House Bill 3645 by state Rep. Tan Parker and Senate Bill 1497 by Sen. Judith Zaffirini would require the registration and regulation of energy brokers at the PUC. These are consumer protection bills. HB 3645 has received a hearing in the House State Affairs committee, but not a vote. The Senate Business and Commerce Committee approved SB 1497 on March 21 and it now awaits a vote by the full Senate.
- Senate Bill 1941, by state Sen Kelly Hancock, would allow a transmission and distribution utility to enter into an agreement with a generator to provide power from an energy storage facility. This legislation stems from a recommendation by the Texas Public Utility Commission, which lately has contended with thorny requests from regulated transmission utilities that want permission to operate utility-scale batteries. The Senate Business and Commerce committee approved the bill on April 9, and it now goes to the full Senate.
- State Rep. Rafael Anchia filed a suite of high-profile bills relating to gas utility safety. In total, the Dallas Democrat filed 11 gas utility-related bills, include HB 864 and HB 868 that increase requirements for the public disclosure of potentially dangerous gas utility leaks and accidents; and HB 866 that requires gas utilities to replace older cast iron piping with more modern plastic piping before 2021. Anchia’s legislation comes in response to public outcry after a 2018 gas explosion destroyed a Dallas home and killed a 12-year-old girl. HB 864, 866 and 868 each received a hearing on April 8 in the House Energy Resources committee, but so far no vote in that committee.
The 86th Texas Legislature adjourns sine die on May 27.
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.