The Public Utility Commission of Texas is being called on the carpet today for signaling that it wants to require utilities to have the capacity to generate plentiful electricity to prevent brownouts and blackouts, like the one that crippled the state in February of 2011, 1200 WOAI news reports.
“February of 11 was a very inconvenient and difficult time,” Commissioner Brandy Marty told a special Legislative committee today.
She says requiring that all electric generators have capacity to meet peak demand and eliminate brownouts and blackouts would end the threat of electricity disruptions which cause problems for homeowners, public facilities, and medical and senior clinics, and dissuade employers from moving operations to Texas.
“I am sure that everyone on this committee probably called the PUC (during the February 11 brownout) to figure out what the problem was, and how to make sure to make sure it doesn’t happen again moving forward.”
But State Sen Troy Fraser (R-Horseshoe Bay) says requiring peak capacity power capacity would cost Texas electric utilities some $4 billion a year, which would raise bills for homeowners and industrial and commercial customers.
Fraser pointed out that one main reason why Texas able to attract California utilities is the fact that Texas’ electricity is significantly cheaper than the Golden State.
“One of the reasons we are getting a lot industry is due to cheap electric prices,” Fraser said. “If we add four billion a year onto the cost, it might affect that.”
Other lawmakers questioned whether the PUC has the legal authority to mandate what is called ‘standby capacity,’ and whether it is the responsibility of the Legislature to make that determination.