Texas Bill Would Require Power Plants to Prepare for Cold

Texas state lawmakers introduced a series of bills designed to address last month’s energy crisis, including one that would require power plants to weatherize and another that would block retailers from exposing consumers to volatile wholesale electricity prices.

Owners of power generators, utilities and cooperatives would be required to make sure their facilities can operate during periods of sub-freezing temperatures and extreme heat, according to a bill filed Friday by State House Representative Chris Paddie.

More than 4 million Texans lost power for days last month during a severe winter storm that knocked out nearly half of the state’s generation capacity. A number of power plants failed during the event because of freezing instruments and valves, the state grid operator said. While the state put in place guidelines for power plants to weatherize after a winter storm in 2011, operators aren’t mandated to follow them.

Texas Bill Would Require Power Plants to Prepare for Cold

Meanwhile, State House Representative Ana Hernandez introduced a bill that would ban any retail power provider from charging households and businesses rates that are tied to the wholesale market price for electricity. The measure comes after customers of retail provider Griddy Energy LLC saw their bills skyrocket to thousands of dollars during the extreme cold when prices on the grid surged to the $9,000 a megawatt-hour price cap.

Griddy, which has been found in default by the state’s power grid operator, charged customers a $9.99 monthly fee and then whatever the wholesale index price was for power.

Paddie also introduced a measure that would require all board members of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or Ercot, to be Texas residents after several out-of-state independent directors stepped down last week because of controversy over their residency.

Of those independent directors, three will be appointed by the governor, including one who will represent residential consumer interests, as well as one each by the lieutenant governor and speaker of the House.

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