Lt. Gov Supports Bill to Correct $16bn Winter Storm Overcharges

Lt. Gov Supports Bill to Correct $16bn Winter Storm Overcharges

Isabel Webb Carey
Isabel Webb Carey
|
March 15, 2021

Earlier today, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick held a press briefing to discuss SB 2142 in which he discussed retroactive action to bring down electricity overcharges incurred during the devastating winter storm last month.

Sponsored by Sen. Bryan Hughes, Bill 2142 will require the Public Utility Commission of Texas to order ERCOT to reverse billions of dollars of wholesale electricity sold between February 17th through 19th. Original estimates made by an independent market monitor estimated that the grid operator ERCOT made a $16 billion error in pricing in keeping the market price at $9,000 for 32 hours. This figure has since been adjusted to a more moderate $4.2 billion. 

“What happened that week was wrong,” said Hughes today. “What would be even worse would be for us to allow a mistake to compound that by costing millions of dollars to ratepayers.” 

The bill was hastily pushed through the Senate Monday by a vote margin of 27-3 following the PUC Chair Arthur D’Andrea’s repeated assertion that correcting the price lies beyond his authority and warnings that retroactively adjusting the market would lead to unforeseen consequences. 

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“We know who’s hurt, let’s address that,” D’Andrea stated. “Instead of making a huge mess that we can’t foresee, and losing twice, let’s just stick with the status quo.”

In today’s press conference, the Republican Lt. Gov explained his aggressive maneuvers to push through the bill after D’Andrea’s refusal to do what, according to Patrick, “he has the right to do under the law.”

Abbott has continued to stand behind D’Andrea, rejecting calls for the Chair’s resignation, and thus safeguarding his position as the only person left of the three-member Public Utility Commission. He wrote in a Friday letter to Patrick in which he stated that the only entity that can authorize the solution you want is the legislature itself.

Despite previous clashes between Abbott and Patrick over this issue, Patrick expressed his hope that the Governor would support the bill and encourage its passage in the Texas House. “I don’t think there’s daylight between us,” he stated. “There have been some questions about process, but I believe he wants to address the situation as well and I hope he will now, as he often says, get that bill to me and I’ll sign it. I hope the House follows up and I know his support would be an encouragement to them.” 

The Lt. Governor emphasized the short-term nature of the solution and re-affirmed his wider commitment to drastic reform of Texas’ electricity grid. “We’re going to look at everything,” he declared.

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Isabel Webb Carey

Isabel Webb Carey

Isabel Webb Carey attends the University of Texas at Austin in the Plan II Honors Program with a certificate in Core Texts and Ideas. Her interests include education, local governance, sustainability, and equity. Isabel enjoys dancing, hiking, and live music. She is also a staff writer for the Texas Orator. Email her at [email protected]
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