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Texas House considers Deep Freeze bills

Report by Rep. Ana Hernandez

On March 8, Speaker Dade Phelan announced the first phase of the House’s legislative reforms to protect consumers and strengthen our state’s electric grid in the aftermath of the recent, unprecedented cold weather event. Speaker Phelan highlighted the following key legislation filed by members of the Texas House of Representatives:

HB 10 – Reforming Energy Reliability Council of Texas Leadership

HB 10, filed by Representative Paddie, restructures the ERCOT board, replacing the unaffiliated members with members appointed by the Governor, Lt. Governor, and Speaker of the House. HB 10 also requires all board members to reside in the state of Texas and creates an additional ERCOT board member slot to represent consumer interests.

HB 11 – Protecting Consumers and Hardening Facilities for Extreme Weather

HB 11, filed by Representative Paddie, requires electric transmission and generation facilities in this state to be weatherized against the spectrum of extreme weather Texas may face. Utilities will be required to reconnect service as soon as possible and prevent slower reconnections for low-income areas, rural Texas, and small communities.

HB 12 – Alerting Texans During Emergencies

HB 12, filed by Representative Raymond, creates a statewide disaster alert system administered by Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) to alert Texans across the state about impending disasters and extreme weather events. The alerts will also provide targeted information on extended power outages to the state’s regions most affected. This system builds off the model used in Amber, Silver, and Blue Alert systems.

HB 13 – Improving Coordination During Disasters

HB 13, filed by Representative Raymond, establishes a council composed of ERCOT, Public Utility Commission of Texas, Railroad Commission, and TDEM leaders to coordinate during a disaster. The committee will identify challenges with fuel supplies, repairs, energy operations and prevent service interruptions from the wellhead to the consumer.

HB 14 – Weatherizing Natural Gas Infrastructure

HB 14, filed by Representative Goldman, requires the Railroad Commission to adopt rules requiring gas pipeline operators to implement measures that ensure service quality and reliability during an extreme weather emergency, which covers winter and heat wave conditions.

HB 16 – Defending Ratepayers

HB 16, filed by Representative Hernandez, bans variable rate products like Griddy for residential customers. These types of speculative plans resulted in exorbitant bills. This bill will provide consumer protection to residential customers while still allowing the competitive market to flourish. HB 16 is scheduled for a public hearing on Thursday, March 18 at 8:00am. To watch the hearing live, please follow this link: https://house.texas.gov/video-audio/.

HB 17 – Protecting Homeowner Rights

HB 17, filed by Rep. Deshotel, prevents any political subdivision or planning authority from adopting or enforcing an ordinance, regulation, code, or policy that would prohibit the connection of residential or commercial buildings to specific infrastructure based on the type or source of energy that will be delivered to the end user.