Texas State Senator Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown) sent the Public Utility Commission (PUC) a letter criticizing its plan for improving the reliability of Texas' energy grid following a legislative meeting held on Jan. 19.
Schwertner, who authored a reform of the Texas power grid back in 2021 known as Senate Bill 3, said in the letter that "the Performance Credit Mechanism adopted by the Public Utility Commission (PUC) at today's open meeting represents a substantial departure from the legislative intent of SB 3".
Schwertner's aim was to erase the grid shortcomings that came to light during Winter Storm Uri, which left millions of Texans without power in February 2021 when record snow accompanied frigid temps.
The bill created requirements ensuring that generators are built to tolerate extreme temperatures, establishing a statewide alert system helping to identify potential generation issues and directing generators to supply ancillary services on a "competitive basis to ensure appropriate reliability during extreme heat and extreme cold weather conditions and during times of low non-dispatchable power production in the power region".
Following the release of the PUC's plan, the Austin Journal reported that the Texas Senate Committee on Business said the plan failed to meet the Legislature's directives. In a letter signed by all of its members, the Committee said that the PUC did "not include any evaluation of the dispatchable ancillary or reliability service directed by SB 3."
State Senators Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels) and Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) both publicly spoke about their disapproval of the PUC plan and reiterated their concerns surrounding the unreliable and expensive nature of the grid's current state.
Schwertner's letter also criticized the PUC for stepping away from a competitive energy-only market and said that SB 3 "did not direct the PUC to replace the state's energy-only market with an unnecessarily complex, capacity-style design that puts the competitive market at risk without guaranteeing the delivery of new dispatchable generation".
According to the Energy Alliance, the PUC's plan falls short of its directives and will both increase costs and reduce reliability as time goes on. The organization specifically noted the continuation of major tax subsidies for wind and solar generators, as well as the lack of responsibility that they face when unable to generate the required amount of energy. The Energy Alliance said this could cost Texans approximately $8 billion per year by 2026.