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State Senators Not Happy With Public Utility Commission Plan For Capacity Markets

Ryan Poppe | Texas Public Radio
TPR News

The Public Utility Commission of Texas has been leaning towards switching to capacity markets to meet Texas’ electricity needs but that concept doesn’t sit well with some state senators.

The Senate Natural Resources Committee met with the head of the PUC to question the group's reasons for switching to a system that would supply energy companies with more state money, hoping they would in turn use those funds to build additional power plants.

State Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, who chairs the Senate Natural Resources Committee, said he doesn’t remember giving the PUC the authority to redesign Texas’ energy market that some predicted would raise everyone electricity bills by 20 percent.

"I find it very interesting that you waited until we were out of session almost a week to the day that we got out of session that you went and started the conservation about a capacity market," Fraiser said.

Mark Walker with NRG Energy said a capacity market decreases the risk of rolling blackouts or brownouts by having more power plants to supply the needed reserves and says the PUC has the authority to switch to a capacity market.

"If you look at the statute it is very clear the commission has the authority to insure that the grid remains reliable," Walker said.

In the coming weeks, the PUC will review the result of two separate reports studying the reliablity of Texas’ energy grid before making a decision, which may come at the beginning of 2014.

Ryan started his radio career in 2002 working for Austin’s News Radio KLBJ-AM as a show producer for the station's organic gardening shows. This slowly evolved into a role as the morning show producer and later as the group’s executive producer.