AUSTIN, Texas - Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick held a media briefing Monday afternoon to talk about a recent bill undoing electricity overcharges from February's winter storm.
Senate Bill 2142, sponsored by state Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola), will require the Public Utility Commission of Texas to order ERCOT to correct the prices of wholesale power and ancillary services sold from Feb. 17-19. ERCOT would be required to make the changes by March 20.
SB 2142 was filed Monday and passed the Texas Senate with a vote of 27-3. It will now go to the Texas House.
ERCOT made a $16 billion error in pricing during the week of the winter storm that caused power outages across the state, according to a filing by its market monitor in early March.
Potomac Economics, the independent market monitor for the Public Utility Commission of Texas, which oversees ERCOT, wrote in a letter to the Public Utility Commission that ERCOT kept market prices for power too high for nearly two days after widespread outages ended late the night of Feb. 17. It should have reset the prices the following day.
More than four million Texans reported having no power during and after the storm that also caused many water issues and claimed the lives of at least 80 people.
ERCOT, which manages the flow of electric power to more than 26 million Texas customers and represents about 90% of the state's electric load, drew blame for the way it handled the major power outage. Five ERCOT board members stepped down from their positions, a day before Texas lawmakers were set to begin hearings over the outages. The remaining members of the board also voted on a 60-day termination of CEO Bill Magness's employment.
Abbott, who has been very vocal in his criticism of the board, declared the reform of ERCOT an emergency item this legislative session in the hopes of getting to the bottom of what happened and ensuring it doesn't happen again.
Some Texans have been reporting energy bills in the thousands following the power outages, with one Arlington family reporting a bill of $17,000 for three meters over five days of use. The surge in pricing is mostly affecting those who have chosen to pay wholesale prices for their power, which is typically cheaper than paying fixed rates during good weather but can spike when there’s a high demand for electricity.
Many of those who have reported receiving large bills are customers of electricity provider Griddy, which only operates in Texas. ERCOT announced in late February that it revoked Griddy’s right to operate, citing a payment breach in a notice posted online.