The 82nd Legislative Session concluded on Monday, May 30th. Lawmakers adopted some bills that could help keep a lid on prices for Texas energy consumers. Other bills will have the opposite effect. Here’s a quick run-down of some key bills, and how they fared.

Senate Bill 661, the ERCOT Reform Bill

Authors: Sen. Robert Nichols and Rep. Burt Solomons
This “Sunset” bill would have mandated changes at the Public Utility Commission including increasing its budgetary and fiscal oversight of ERCOT, which is the organization that manages the power grid. ERCOT has a long history of mismanagement. However, it fell victim May 24th to a technical objection.
Status: Dead.

Senate Bill 948, the Standard Offer Bill

Authors: Sen. Wendy Davis and Rep. Sylvester Turner
SB 948 (and Rep. Turner’s companion bill) would have directed retail electric providers to offer standard offer products, along with their other electricity offers. This would have allowed Texans to make apples-to-apples comparisons when shopping for electricity.
Status: Dead.

Senate Bill 1309, the Gas Rate Streamlining Bill

SB 1309 would have tilted the regulatory process in favor of gas utilities, and against those representing gas consumers. As such, it would make it easier for gas utilities to increase bills.
Status: Dead.

Senate Bill 319, the System Benefit Fund Bill

Author: Sen. John Carona
This bill would have bolstered a special fund intended to help low-income electric consumers. The fund is paid for through fees on electric bills, but has been repeatedly raided by legislative budget writers.
Status: Dead.

Senate Bill 1219, the PowerToChoose Bill

Author: Sen. John Carona
Senate Bill 1219 would improve the state sponsored powertochoose website. Texans who purchase electricity in the deregulated market can go to powertochoose to compare electricity offers.
Status: Dead.

House Bill 2133, the Market Abuse Restitution Bill

Author: Rep. Burt Solomons
This bill would close a loophole in Texas law that allows companies to profit from violating rules in the wholesale market. This bill gives the PUC the authority to order the company to pay back their ill-gotten profits. This bill received final approval in the Texas Senate on May 25th and it now goes to the Governor.
Status: Adopted.

Senate Bill 655, the Railroad Commission Sunset Bill

Authors: Sen. Glenn Hegar and Rep. Jim Keffer
The Railroad Commission is the agency that oversees gas utility rates. This bill would change the name of the agency and could require the agency to use independent hearing examiners to review gas utility cases. Consumer groups favor this reform. But SB 655 died May 28th with the expiration of a procedural deadline.
Status: Dead.

Senate Bill 1434, the Low-Income Weatherization Bill

Author: Sen. John Carona
This bill would enhance standards for those who provide government sponsored weatherization services for low-income Texans. It received final approval on May 25th in the Texas House and now heads to the Governor.
Status: Adopted.

Senate Bill 1693, the Electric Rate Streamlining Bill

This bill would make it easier for monopoly electric utilities to raise rates to correspond with certain investments. It was sent to the Governor for his signature on May 18th.
Status: Adopted.

House Bill 1064, the “Demand Ratchet” Bill

Author: Rep. Jim Pitts
This bill would waive certain “demand ratchet” provisions in electric transmission rates that otherwise would result in dramatically higher charges for certain commercial customers. The customers that benefit most from this bill are those that operate facilities that use a large amount of electricity on an intermittent basis, such as high school stadiums. HB 1064 was sent to the Governor for his signature on May 18th.
Status: Adopted.

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