San Antonio lawmaker to file utility reform bills to address power crisis in Texas Legislature

State Rep. Steve Allison: ‘We must never suffer through something like this again’

State Rep. Steve Allison represents District 121, which includes parts of north central and northeast San Antonio, as well as the cities of Alamo Heights, Terrell Hills, and Olmos Park. (KSAT)

SAN ANTONIO – A state lawmaker from San Antonio plans to file two bills in the Texas Legislature regarding the power crisis that has left residents of Bexar County and millions of other Texans without electricity and water.

According to a news release, the first bill Texas Rep. Steve Allison is drafting will require the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC) to enact comprehensive rules, mandating each energy operator to fully weatherize and maintain each coal, gas, nuclear, and wind plant to protect from severe weather conditions.

“This must not be a suggestion or request for study or report, but a mandate that such weather protections be in place to guard against the freezing consequences Texans are currently experiencing,” said Allison, a Republican who represents House District 121, which includes parts of north central and northeast San Antonio, as well as the cities of Alamo Heights, Terrell Hills, and Olmos Park.

Allison is also working on legislation that would require the PUC to establish rules requiring that each energy provider enact procedures for including public school facilities in emergency priority categories for grid and distribution purposes. The purpose of this legislation will be to ensure that community schools can provide shelter, food, transportation, and other community services during crises.

“I reached out to two of our local school districts for possible use of facilities for shelter and warming locations, meals and food distribution, and transportation needs,” Allison said. “But I was surprised to learn that they, too, were without power and not afforded any emergency priority treatment.”

Allison plans to file the bills in the Texas House soon.

“I recognize that the cow is already out of the barn and the current crisis requires far more attention and resolution so we never suffer through something like this again,” Rep. Allison said. “Still, I hope these bills can help start the vitally important dialogue needed for lasting solutions.”

Earlier this week, Gov. Greg Abbott declared the reform of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) an emergency item this legislative session.

Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan on Tuesday requested that the House State Affairs and Energy Resources committees hold a joint hearing to review the factors that led to megawatts of electric generation being dropped off the ERCOT system and the subsequent statewide blackouts that affected millions of Texans across the state.

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About the Author:

David Ibañez has been managing editor of KSAT.com since the website's launch in October 2000.