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Texas House approves reforms to state power grid in aftermath of February winter storm

Asher Price, Austin American-Statesman on

Published in Weather News

AUSTIN, Texas — Measures aimed at shoring up the Texas electric grid in the aftermath of a February storm, which left millions of Texans in the dark and desperately cold, flew through the Texas House on Tuesday.

The legislation, aimed at addressing a calamity that left more than 110 Texans dead, saw widespread support with lawmakers from both political parties keen to show constituents they're tackling the problem.

The measures would:

Overhaul the board of the electric grid operator to give state officials a greater say in its makeup and require that board members live in Texas. (Five of the 15 board members at the time of the storms did not live in Texas.)

Require that power generators and transmission companies prepare their facilities for "extreme weather emergencies" and enact policies to bring failed generation back online as soon as possible.

Establish a Texas Energy Disaster Reliability Council to help prevent interruptions in electric service lasting more than 24 hours caused by a disaster.

 

Codify better communication among local, state and federal authorities about potential power outages due to disasters.

The bills, authored by Rep. Chris Paddie, R-Marshall, chair of the House State Affairs Committee, were developed after almost 30 hours of hearings on the power outages.

"There's not one silver bullet to improve our electric system," Paddie said on the House floor. "This continues our work to fix our electric system. We’ve had an efficient system for many years, but it needs some improvements to be resilient."

Another measure, authored by state Rep. Richard Peña Raymond, D-Laredo, establishes a statewide disaster alert system through which the Texas Division of Emergency Management would provide Texans with up‑to‑the‑minute notifications and vital public safety information during disasters, including widespread power outages.

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