By Rep. Trent Ashby
It’s hot. With triple-digit temperatures already across the state, Texas has had an unseasonably warm start to our summer season.
As the mercury climbs, many of us are counting on our air conditioners to provide us with some welcome relief from the heat. With demand for energy at an all-time high, the resiliency of our electric grid is critical to the safety and well-being of all Texans.
As you may recall, in response to Winter Storm Uri, the Legislature last session took decisive action by passing a number of reforms to our state's power grid that increased efficiency, bolstered resiliency, and established a more transparent governing structure to enhance our preparedness for increased energy usage.
As such, for this week's column, I thought it would be appropriate to cover the committee that will monitor the implementation of these reforms — the House Committee of State Affairs.
With that, we'll dive back into our examination of House interim charges with State Affairs.
The House Committee on State Affairs is one of the larger committees and covers a wide range of issues relating to the operation of public lands and state buildings, the regulation of the electric and telecommunications industries, pipelines, and cybersecurity to name a few.
The committee oversees many essential organizations and state agencies, including the Public Utility Commission, the Department of Information Resources, the Office of the Governor, the Texas Ethics Commission, and the Texas Facilities Commission.
The Committee will spend a significant amount of time this interim monitoring the implementation of policies related to our state's power grid. More specifically, the Speaker charged the committee to examine SB 2, which overhauls the governance structure of the Public Utility Commission and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas to improve legislative oversight and increase accountability by requiring members to live in the State of Texas.
The Speaker has also asked the committee to examine SB 3, which was perhaps the most significant piece of legislation affecting our power grid. SB 3 consolidates several bills and enacts a range of reforms to the power industry.
Some highlights include the establishment of a statewide alert system to enhance communication between state agencies; the establishment of the Texas Energy Reliability Council to ensure the industry meets high-priority human needs; and a requirement for energy facilities to weatherize and make the preparations necessary to maintain electric service during extreme weather conditions.
The Committee on State Affairs is also tasked with examining efforts of industry weatherization and reviewing the status of projects to reduce transmission congestion within the state’s electric grid.
Importantly, the House Committee on State Affairs is keeping a close eye on these reforms, having already conducted a hearing to receive testimony from state entities and power generators, which will continue throughout the interim.
As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office if we can help you in any way. My district office may be reached at (936) 634-2762. Additionally, I welcome you to follow along on my Official Facebook Page, where I will be posting regular updates on what's happening in your State Capitol and sharing information that could be useful to you and your family: https://www.facebook.com/RepTrentAshby/.
Trent Ashby represents District 57, soon to be District 9, which includes Trinity County, in the Texas Legislature.