Warning that the “fox is in the henhouse,” state Rep. Burt Solomons on Thursday announced legislation to revamp the board of directors at ERCOT, which is the organization that oversees the Texas power grid.

Rep. Solomons said that he would replace the current board — which is dominated by industry representatives — with an independent one that includes voting positions for all three members of the Texas Public Utility Commission. His proposed legislation, House Bill 2421, also would remove electricity-asset-owning representatives.

“We need an independent board to review and manage our state”s electricity grid, not the industry,” said Rep. Solomons, R-Carrollton. “We need to review the process and make sure the consumers are not locked out at the end of the day.”

In a prepared release, Rep. Solomons also criticized ERCOT’s handling of the nodal market overhaul. The project was originally estimated to cost less than $77 million and be complete by 2006. It’s now budgeted for $660 million and won’t be ready before the end of 2010.

“The current nodal project is over-budget and out of control — this is one example of how the process lacks checks and balances because the industry controls it,” he said.

As chair of the House State Affairs committee, Rep. Solomons has significant authority over state energy policy. Solomons signaled earlier that the 81st Legislative Session would be the “session of the consumer” and has already filed separate legislation also intended to help residential ratepayers.

— R.A. Dyer

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