Summer Challenges to the Electric Grid Highlight Need for Reform at the Railroad Commission of Texas

It’s not even officially summer yet, and we’re already seeing the electric grid strained and calls for Texans to conserve energy.

Energy conservation is critically important, but the shaky electric grid and questionable oversight of our power supply show some of the same challenges that plagued the power supply in the winter.

Scientists say we will have more extreme winters and summers, and Texas leaders need to be better prepared for these weather changes.

Natural gas supplies are vulnerable to heat-related power outages that could trigger 

Nothing has changed

Texas lawmakers wasted their chance in the regular session to do anything to meaningfully prevent a repeat of the devastating power outages that killed as many as 700 Texans and cost our state billions of dollars.

This summer Texans will pay more for less reliable electricity, while the legislature went out of its way to protect the gas industry from having to pay upfront to prevent the next power outage. 

These increased costs over and over again are increasing inequality.  More and more families will be burdened with a higher portion of their paycheck going to paying their electricity bills.  

What needs to happen

In a special session, the legislature should strengthen the electric grid and set firm deadlines for energy facilities to weatherize. Any penalties for not weatherizing should be large enough to actually encourage compliance.

State agencies that oversee the energy sector -- including the Railroad Commission, which regulates oil and gas -- need to be transparent in their decision making, forward-looking in their planning, and accountable for their decisions.

The commission should immediately ask all critical supply chain operators to sign up as critical loads with ERCOT and their utilities so they aren’t disconnected.

Instead of marching in step with the oil and gas industry, the Railroad Commission should hold those sectors accountable to strong safeguards that ensure supply to power plants, protect our air, water, land, and people, and take into account a worsening climate.

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