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Gov. Abbott signs ERCOT reforms and power grid weatherization into law

Abbott said he made reforming ERCOT an "emergency item" after the winter storm in February.
Credit: Abbott

AUSTIN, Texas — Gov. Greg Abbott signed Senate Bills Two and Three into law to reform the Electric Reliability Council of Texas and weatherize and improve the reliability of the state's power grid Tuesday.

Abbott made ERCOT reform and weatherization of the power system emergency items this past session. He was joined for the bill signing by Rep. Chris Paddie, Sen. Kelly Hancock and Sen. Charles Schwertner.

Under the two bills, Texas will now require the weatherization of power generation facilities, natural gas facilities and transmission facilities to handle extreme weather. The Texas Railroad Commission and ERCOT will be required to inspect these facilities and failure to weatherize these facilities can result in a penalty of up to $1 million.

These bills also create a "power outage alert" where Texans will receive an emergency alert whenever the power supply in the state may be inadequate to meet demand. 

Additionally, this legislation establishes the Texas Energy Reliability Council to improve coordination between state agencies and industry during extreme weather emergencies and extended power outages.

Finally, the legislation makes reforms to ERCOT, including having eight fully independent board members of the 11-member board and requires board members to be residents of Texas.

"During the winter storm, too many Texans were left without heat or power for days on end and I immediately made reforming ERCOT and weatherizing the power system emergency items," Abbott said in a press release from his office. "We promised not to leave session until we fixed these problems and I am proud to say that we kept that promise. These laws will improve the reliability of the electric grid and help ensure these problems never happen again. Thank you to Senators Kelly Hancock and Charles Schwertner and Rep. Chris Paddie for your leadership on these important issues."