Public Citizen Statement on Senate Bill 3

Texas House of Representatives Still Has Time to Fix Senate Bill 3

Texas House of Representatives Still Has Time to Fix Senate Bill 3

Lower Chamber Expected to Debate Sweeping Energy Legislation On Sunday

AUSTIN, TEXAS – The Texas House of Representatives must improve major energy legislation intended to address energy grid failures that resulted in nearly 200 deaths and widespread power blackouts across Texas in February to ensure better compliance by energy companies, Public Citizen said today ahead of a Sunday debate on the bill.

House members have an opportunity to improve on Senate Bill 3, approved by the Senate on March 29. While the Senate bill would require enhancements to power generators, transmission lines, natural gas facilities and pipelines to protect them from extreme weather such as Winter Storm Uri, the bill doesn’t go far enough to ensure compliance.

“This is another missed opportunity from the Texas legislature,” said Adrian Shelley, Texas office director of Public Citizen. “Where’s the investment in people? We should spend taxpayer dollars on weatherizing homes, on solar and battery storage, and on energy savings through efficiency.”

Here are at least five amendments the House could adopt on Sunday to ensure that Senate Bill 3 is improved:

  1. Require all plants and facilities in the gas supply chain to install the required weatherization protections and equipment within one year of the adoption of regulations by the Texas Railroad Commission;
  2. Set a floor for penalties for failing to winterize that exceeds the cost of winterizing gas wellheads and make penalties mandatory;
  3. Require all plants and facilities in the gas supply chain to adhere to recommendations from expert assessments of weatherization plans by a qualified third party;
  4. Adopt language that assures Texas is preparing for even more severe weather in the future as predicted by the State Climatologist; and
  5. Require software upgrades so transmission and distribution utilities can better administer involuntary power shutdowns to portions of the Texas grid to protect the entire grid during severe weather.  House Bill 3038 by Rep. Donna Goodwin addresses this.

“There is still time to fix SB 3,” said Shelley, “Lawmakers can still add stronger mandates and programs to benefit people directly.”

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