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Gov. Abbott signs ERCOT reform, weatherization bills into law

Senate Bill 3 requires critical power generators to update their infrastructure to be resistant to extreme temperatures.

HOUSTON — Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday signed two bills aimed at preventing another power grid failure, a promise he made after February’s deadly winter storm.

Senate Bill 2 changes the structure of the board for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the nonprofit that operates Texas’ electrical grid, so politicians appoint the majority of the members.

"There began to be some conflicts of interest, and so we blew it up, said state  Sen. Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills) during a news conference at the State Capitol in Austin moments after the signing. “It is a completely independent board now."

Senate Bill 3 requires critical power generators to update their infrastructure to be resistant to extreme temperatures. The bill would also create a statewide power outage alert system.

"(Fines of) up to a million dollars a day on those incidents can add up pretty quickly, and so I'm very confident folks are going to comply,” said state Rep. Chris Paddie (R-Marshall).

KHOU 11 Energy Expert Ed Hirs doesn't think these bills go far enough.

"Nothing ensures that we're going to have competent board members or that we're gonna have competent ERCOT management,” said Hirs, on Senate Bill 2. “That's the most important thing."

Hirs, who is Energy Fellow at the University of Houston, also had concerns about Senate Bill 3.

“Nothing in Senate Bill 3 addresses the problems that we're facing coming up in August,” he said. “By the time you begin to implement anything in Senate Bill 3, we're already in February 2022."

Hirs wants to see a special session to address what he believes is the root cause of the grid problem.

“The generation companies don’t seem to be getting enough money to actually provide reliable service,” Hirs said. “For eight of the last ten years, the ERCOT report states that generation companies don’t receive enough revenue to cover their costs.”

Hirs says consumers will end up paying for the changes.