Analysis: A power test for Texas voters
After last winter’s near-statewide electric blackouts, Texas lawmakers went after regulators they deemed responsible but tiptoed around the Texas Railroad Commission, which regulates oil and gas. Now voters have a chance, if they want it, to send the state a message.
Texas could connect to national power grids without losing autonomy, former grid regulator says
Texas has long refused to connect its decentralized grid to two national power networks, but Hunt Energy Network CEO Pat Wood said the state could do so without additional oversight — and without state Legislature approval.
A year after the electric grid failed, Texas focuses on reliability, not climate change
Transitioning sources of electricity to cleaner fuels is one of the best tools humanity has to fight climate change — which brings severe weather that taxes the grid. But a year after the winter storm, Texas leaders aren’t talking about decarbonizing.
Analysis: Betting a Texas election on a weather forecast
Gov. Greg Abbott says he can "guarantee" there won't be blackouts this winter in Texas after one that knocked out power for some people for four days last February. That's the kind of pre-election prediction that can make a weather forecaster more useful than a political poll.
Texas grid vulnerable to blackouts during severe winter weather, even with new preparations, ERCOT estimates show
The most severe scenario considered by ERCOT for this winter — very high demand for power, extensive fossil fuel outages, and low renewable power production — does not capture the amount of power lost during February.
Power companies required to better prepare plants for winter in first phase of rule approved by Texas regulators
The state Public Utility Commission adopted a rule — which experts first recommended a decade ago following a winter storm — requiring power companies to use “best efforts” to ensure plants can operate in the winter.
Oil industry helped handpick members of Texas advisory group for electric grid reliability, emails show
Oil and gas industry groups provided a list of names to the Railroad Commission for appointment to a council formed in response to the February power crisis. All four of the industry's top choices were selected.
Texas regulators want to prepare the state’s electricity grid for extreme weather. But that’s a moving target in a warming world.
The state plans to use past weather data to craft rules for power plant upgrades. Scientists warn that the accelerating effects of climate change make relying on old data alone insufficient.
ERCOT will have to release information about power plant outages quicker — but it may not detail what causes them
The Public Utility Commission said the state's main power grid operator will have three days — instead of 60 — to release some information about power plant outages. But that may not include why the electricity generators were offline.
Everyday Texans overlooked in state lawmakers' response to power outages during winter storm
While lawmakers took significant steps toward preventing another blackout, hardly any of the proposals passed during this legislative session will aid consumers in recovering from the February storm — but they’ll see higher utility bills.
Texas Legislature close to approving billions to pay for winter storm financial fallout
Several billions of dollars in state-approved financing will be necessary to stabilize the state’s distressed energy market after the winter storm. Texas approves more in finance bailouts for its utilities than any other state.
Gov. Greg Abbott nominates new chair to Public Utility Commission after power crisis resignations
Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday named Peter Lake the new chair of the Texas Public Utility Commission, the public board that regulates the state’s power grid operators and saw all three of its members resign in the wake of February’s deadly winter storm.
Texas' last PUC member resigns after recording catches him reassuring utility investors
click to enlarge Courtesy Photo / Texas Public Utility CommissionPublic Utility Commission Chairman Arthur D'Andrea was asked to resign after being captured on an audio recording reassuring investors in the companies he was hired to regulate. Greg Abbott on Tuesday night announced the resignation of Public Utility Commission Chairman Arthur D'Andrea. "Tonight, I asked for and accepted the resignation of PUC Commissioner Arthur D’Andrea," the Republican governor said in a brief statement. Texans deserve to have trust and confidence in the Public Utility Commission, and this action is one of many steps that will be taken to achieve that goal. Last week, San Antonio's CPS Energy sued the nonprofit operator of Texas' power grid , saying it had "illegally" and "excessively" overcharged the municipally owned utility for wholesale power.The recording of D'Andrea surfaced after Lt. Gov.sacurrent.com
There’s no one left on Texas’ Public Utility Commission after final board member resigns at Gov. Greg Abbott’s request
Public Utility Commission Chair Arthur D’Andrea has resigned, Gov. D'Andrea was the only remaining member of the three-seat commission that regulates the state's electric, telecommunication and water and sewer utilities. The other two commissioners, including the chair at the time, DeAnn Walker, had resigned in recent weeks over fallout related to last month's winter storm. "Tonight, I asked for and accepted the resignation of PUC Commissioner Arthur D’Andrea," the governor said in a statement, adding that he plans to name "a replacement in the coming days who will have the responsibility of charting a new and fresh course for the agency." “Texans deserve to have trust and confidence in the Public Utility Commission, and this action is one of many steps that will be taken to achieve that goal,” Abbott said.
The Texas Public Utility Commission’s revolving door between industry and regulator
During her testimony before the House and Senate, Walker had tried to play down the extent of her regulatory powers over both ERCOT, which operates the state electric grid, and the electric power industry. Greg Abbott appointed Walker as chair of the commission, making her the top official in Texas overseeing the electric industry. Consumer advocates and government watchdogs say that the constant whirling of the revolving door may weaken the integrity of the Commission’s oversight duties. But this wasn’t Urban’s first trip through the revolving door between the agency and the industry it’s charged with regulating. “The good news is that when they come back, they often have a far greater understanding of the nature of the electric industry,” Smith says.sacurrent.com
Texas Bans Utilities From Disconnecting Jobless Customers. Consumer Groups Warn That's Not Enough.
It also doesn't prevent shut-offs for small businesses such as bars and restaurants, which have taken deep financial blows from the pandemic. What's more, the measure doesn't address reconnecting residents who have already been switched off.For its part, San Antonio's CPS Energy announced March 11 that it's suspending customer disconnects. From local politics and culture to national news that hits close to home, San Antonio Current has been keeping San Antonio informed for years. If quality journalism is important to you, please consider a donation to San Antonio Current. Every reader contribution is valuable and so appreciated, and goes directly to support our coverage of critical issues and neighborhood culture.sacurrent.com