Lawmakers have filed more than 2,600 bills during the ongoing 88th Texas Legislature, including several dozen relating to energy and utility issues.
State lawmakers have filed more than 2,600 bills during the ongoing 88th Texas Legislature, including several dozen relating to energy and utility issues. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick also has announced appointments to Senate committees, and committee assignments for the Texas House should follow soon.
What follows is a quick update of key activities during the 88th Texas Legislature, now entering its fourth week:
- On Jan. 23, Lt. Gov. Patrick announced member assignments to Senate committees, including to the Senate Business and Commerce committee that handles electric market issues, and to the Senate Natural Resources and Economic Development
Committee that handles gas utility issues. Regarding the Business and Commerce committee, Sen. Charles Schwertner of Georgetown will serve as chair and Sen. Phil King of Weatherford will serve as vice chair. Regarding the Natural Resources and Economic Development committee, Sen. Brian Birdwell of Granbury will serve as chair and Sen. Judith Zaffirini of Laredo will serve as Vice chair.
- In the House, the State Affairs committee handles issues relating to the electric market, while the Energy Resources committee handles gas utility issues. House Speaker Dade Phelan has yet to decide on committee membership but is expected to do so soon.
- The Texas Public Utility Commission recently approved far-reaching changes to the ERCOT market, but signaled that implementation will wait until lawmakers can debate them during the 88th Texas Legislature. Sen. Schwertner and members of his Business and Commerce committee already have expressed skepticism about the changes, so expect debate about them when the committee meets on February 7. The House State Affairs committee also is expected to consider the changes once the panel is up and running. You can read more about the proposed changes in this separate article, found here.
- The Sunset Advisory Commission is a panel of elected lawmakers and public members that reviews public agencies as part of a periodic reauthorization process. On Jan. 11, the Sunset Commission issued several governance recommendations for ERCOT, the PUC and the separate Office of Public Utility Counsel. Some of these changes, if approved by the Texas Legislature, would affect how the PUC issues orders to ERCOT leadership. The issue is important because informal directives from then-PUC chair DeAnn Walker to ERCOT leadership during the 2021 winter emergency have been blamed for major disruptions to the state’s wholesale power market. Another proposed Sunset change would limit the ability of PUC members to attend some ERCOT executive sessions. These recommendations will become the starting point for legislation, which should be filed soon. You can see the Sunset Commission’s recommendations here.
- Tuesday, January 10, 2023 — 88th Texas Legislature convenes at noon.
- Tuesday, February 7, 2023 — Senate Business and Commerce Committee Meeting
- Friday, March 10, 2023 — 60-day deadline for bill filings.
- Monday, May 29, 2023 — Last day of 88th Regular Session (sine die).
Below is a summary of some bills of interest so far filed during the 88th Texas Legislature.
HB 763 – Rep. Christina Morales
This bill is re-filed from the 87th Legislative Session and would require the PUC to conduct a study on the impact of electric interconnections with Mexico and report its findings back to the Legislature.
HB 1013 – Rep. Barbara Gervin-Hawkins
Updates the state’s renewable goals such that fifty percent of the state’s generating capacity must come from renewable energy technologies by 2030 and one hundred percent by 2050.
HB 1146 – Rep. Ron Reynolds
Provides for utilities to access transmission services and purchase power at wholesale from outside ERCOT.
HB 1412 – Rep. Matt Schaefer
This is a companion bill to SB 330 by Sen. Bob Hall and is related to the security and resilience of the electric grid. The bill proposes to create the Texas Grid Security Commission, comprised of representatives from various relevant agencies, to evaluate threats and hazards to the electric grid.
SB 31 – Sen. Judith Zaffirini
Relates to the interconnection of the ERCOT power grid to other outside grids.
SB 114 – Sen. Jose Menendez
Provides for customer participation in demand response programs; also dictates notice of emergency energy alerts in cases of low operating reserves.
SB 330 – Sen. Bob Hall
Proposes creation of the Texas Grid Security Commission to evaluate grid threats, develop emergency services, and identify critical components of the system, among other tasks.
SB 365 – Sen. Judith Zaffirini
Requires electric utilities building substations to provide specific notice to landowners within 300 feet of the proposed substation.
SB 488 – Sen. Drew Springer
Imposes a tax on the generation of electricity by certain electric generators using energy sources other than natural gas to provide revenue for property tax relief.
SB 527 – Sen. Royce West
Allows for retail electric providers to receive rebates from the Comptroller in exchange for offering rebated or free electric service to childcare facilities.