San Antonio state senator says Texas energy market is ‘broken’

State Sen. José Menéndez calls for changes to prevent costly surge pricing mistake

Texas Sen. José Menéndez said Wednesday the state’s energy market needs to be addressed by the legislature after the state’s power grid overcharged power companies by $16 billion during the winter storm.

In an interview with the Texas Tribune about the winter storm, Menéndez applauded Gov. Greg Abbott’s decision to make the pricing error an emergency item during this legislative session. Rather than resetting the price of energy after the end of rolling outages that kept millions of Texans without power, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas — which runs the state’s power grid — kept market prices for power at the maximum of $9000 per megawatt-hour for nearly two more days.

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Menéndez also blamed the Public Utility Commission of Texas, which oversees ERCOT, for refusing to correct the mistake.

“I was extremely disappointed with the PUC for not having the backs of the ratepayers of Texas,” Menéndez said. “If there was an error made, how do you expect or believe that you should balance that error on the backs of hardworking Texans? That’s adding insult to injury after they’ve gone through what they’ve gone through to make them pay for the mistake.”

That state senator is confident that there will be bipartisan agreement to “protect Texans from having astronomical bills they don’t deserve.”

Menéndez also said the surge pricing saga is proof of a broken energy system.

“The problem is not so much whether we’re deregulated or regulated ... the reality is the market for energy is broken,” Menéndez said. “The market how energy is priced ... in my opinion, it does need some guardrails.”

The legislature is expected to pass bills during this legislative session to modernize the grid and fix the errors exposed by the winter storm, which turned fatal for some Texans who were left without power for days.

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