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Senate Bill 6 Advances: The End of Energy Competition in Texas?

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Environmental advocates urge calls to state Senators Menéndez and Zaffirini today to freeze gas bill at the Business and Commerce Committee.

Greg Harman

Texas Republicans are falling over themselves this session to prop up dangerous fossil fuels and sandbag renewables. The grand vision of Lt. Guv Dan Patrick post Winter Storm Uri is to build a publicly funded $12B* “backup generator” for Texas’s electric grid by cobbling together a string of taxpayer-supported gas plants that would sit idle…almost always. And which Texans would pay for regardless if they are ever actually needed.

Senate Bill 6, which surfaces for its first hearing on Thursday, March 23, could also end energy competition as we’ve known it through a “Texas Energy Insurance Program.” It’s a great deal…for those building and operating the power plants, writes energy consultant Doug Lewin.

“If SB 6 passes, we’ll likely never see another dispatchable plant built beyond these that Texans will directly pay for. We’d almost certainly see an accelerated wave of power plants retirements, leaving the system less reliable—and more expensive—than before the bill was passed,” Lewin writes.

SB6 appears to put taxpayers on the hook for all costs even if the plants are never used (read: taxpayers must cover stranded costs, ie. “the actual cost of each relevant reliability asset…[including the] depreciable life of each relevant reliability asset”).

Seeking to get the bill bogged down in committee, Emma Pabst of the Sierra Club issued this rapid-response email urging residents to call two well-positioned Democrats.

“We just learned that the bill to build 20 new fracked gas power plants on Texas taxpayers’ dime is up for a surprise vote tomorrow. We need as many people as possible to call into Senator Menéndez’s office to let him know they’re against it. Between rising electricity costs and the effects of climate change, Texans just can’t afford this damaging proposal.”

José Menéndez, D-San Antonio, sits on the Senate Committee on Business and Commerce that has a chance of keeping the bill from advancing. As does Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo.

Environmental advocates tend to favor alternative responses.

“Simple energy efficiency measures to improve our businesses and homes can reduce electricity demand and lower bills for people struggling to pay, instead of propping up a dying and damaging industry at the expense of everyday Texans,” Pabst writes. “Energy efficiency is a better all-around solution to our grid issues.”

Pabst even sent along some talking points for those willing to call Senators Menéndez and Zaffirini. If you missed that email alert, you can find the talking points over here.

Extra points for reaching additional committee members like…

Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels

Senator Lois W. Kolkhorst, R-Brenham

Senator Nathan Johnson, D-Dallas

* Estimated, probably at the low end.


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