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Texas Matters: Fixing The Grid And Getting Texas Ready For Electric Cars

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After the deadly winter storm in February, Texas leaders were clear in admitting that there was a break down at the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, and that the grid will be fixed, upgraded and prepared for the next weather disaster.

Officially, at least 150 people in Texas died in the winter storm due to the extreme cold and the widespread power outages. Also, millions of Texans lost access to clean tap water, and there was widespread property damage from frozen pipes.

The cost of natural gas needed during the emergency skyrocketed, and it's unclear who is on the hook for those billions of dollars.

Texas lawmakers responded with Senate Bill 3, an energy omnibus bill that that some experts call a "step in the right direction."

It addresses the weatherization issues that failed on the grid in February but it doesn’t address efficiency, demand response and diversifying energy generation, including battery storage.

State senators unanimously approved the bill in March, though House members have since made key changes.

Beth Garza is a former director of the ERCOT Independent Market Monitor. She praised SB 3 for trying to address what she called the "dysfunctional relationship" between electricity and natural gas.

"And so one of the ways you can address that and in the current language of Senate Bill 3, it forces those two industries to work together on a couple things," Garza said.

​​The bill would, among other things, create a supply chain committee to identify how to prepare facilities that provide electricity and natural gas to maintain services during extreme weather.

Sandie Haverlah, president of the Texas Consumer Association, explained how the legislature attempted to safeguard the state’s energy supply before we see a repeat of past tragedies.

TX Electric Trucks

This week, we saw President Joe Biden driving the latest entry into the rapidly developing electric vehicle market. Biden took the Ford F-150 Lightning pickup for a spin on a test track.

Biden wants to spur interest in electric cars and trucks because he says it’s the future of transportation.

Where will Texas fit in this future? That depends on what laws concerning EV’s are passed by the legislature. Tom Smith is the executive director of the Texas Electric Resources Alliance of Texas.

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David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi