VERNON (KFDX/KJTL) — Governor Greg Abbott signed two pieces of legislation on Tuesday aimed at preventing statewide power outages during future winter storms.
A move that District 68 Representative David Spiller called a step in the right direction.
“It’s great that the governor signed off on Senate Bill 2 which dealt with restructuring ERCOT and placing some restrictions in there that needed to be in place and Senate Bill 3 which was kind of an omnibus bill that covered a number of issues dealing with weatherization and electric reforms,” Spiller said.
But Spiller said that more needs to be done.
“The House Bill 4492, apparently there was some discussion that it didn’t pass, but it did pass, and it would provide funding through the rainy day fund,” Spiller said.
Left out of the signing ceremony Tuesday was House Bill 4492, which would provide $2 billion worth of funding to electric companies tasked with making improvements to the grid and entities stuck with massive bills after the storm.
“We talk about these costs back to providers. But the costs we are talking about in 4492 have to do with reimbursement out of the rainy day fund to consumers, whether they be commercial, retail, or what have you,” Spiller said.
Just ask Vernon city manager Marty Mangum who said that Vernon was handed a $149,000 electric bill in April despite the city’s participation in a fixed-rate cooperative agreement with 166 other cities.
Mangum said the price for ancillary energy went from the average price of $9000 per kilowatt-hour to more than $25,000 per hour.
“In this case, it was a double-edged sword because we have a good electric rate but we have assessed these charges that have to be paid during the term of that contract,” Mangum said.
But ultimately, Mangum says he’s confident the Governor won’t leave cities left out to dry.
“It’s on the governor’s desk, it’s already passed both houses of congress in the Texas Legislature, and basically what that does is it allows those electric companies that had to pay for that ancillary charges, and basically those are companies that we are selling more than they were producing, it allows those companies to securitize that debt,” Mangum said.
A thawing out process that could take all summer long.