Who should manage and be accountable for electricity in Texas? Politicians and bureaucrats with special interests everywhere? Or corporations with their own capital on the line?
In light of the second anniversary of the Texas Power Crisis of February 2021 (see yesterday), the answer would seem obvious. Grade A corporations, with the legal responsibility to customers, not politicians.
I was reminded of this when I read a Fox News story (February 7, 2023), “Texas State Senator Arrested for Drunk Driving.” Charles Schwertner, a Republican, “was set to preside over a Senate committee meeting at 11 a.m. regarding Texas’ power grid and recent winter outages.”
Another news account stated:
Schwertner, who leads the Senate’s Business and Commerce Committee, was expected at the Capitol at 11 a.m. Tuesday when the Senate reconvened for the week. The Business and Commerce Committee also had a scheduled hearing to discuss proposed changes by the state’s Public Utilities Commission to the energy market’s design that stemmed from failures that led to millions of people losing power across the state during the 2021 winter freeze. Schwertner, who has served in the Senate since 2013, has expressed dissatisfaction with those changes.
Schwertner missed the Senate’s scheduled meeting and the Business and Commerce Committee’s meeting. Sen. Phil King, a Weatherford Republican who is serving his first term in the Senate, took the helm of the committee as the group’s vice chair. “The chair, as you know, is not going to be able to be with us today,” said King…
Here is some more on Senator Schwertner:
Senator Charles Schwertner, MD, is a lifelong Republican, a sixth-generation Texan, and a committed fighter for conservative values. Since 2013, Dr. Schwertner has represented Senate District 5, a ten-county region of central and east Texas that includes Brazos, Freestone, Grimes, Leon, Limestone, Madison, Milam, Robertson, Walker, and Williamson counties.
This senator has been in the middle of Texas’s electricity policy. According to Wiki:
In 2021, Senator Schwertner passed SB 3 to substantively reform the Texas power grid in the aftermath of a series of major winter storms that left many Texans without power for several days. These changes included requiring the weatherization of critical power generation, natural gas, and electrical transmission infrastructure; instituting an emergency alert system to notify Texans about extended power outages; and reforming the electric market to increase generation capacity and improve the reliability of the state’s power grid.
Importantly, SB 3 also formalized the Texas Electric Reliability Council to “enhance coordination and communication in the energy and electric industries in this state.” As part of its duties, the Council is tasked with overseeing the Texas Electricity Supply Chain Security and Mapping Committee. The Committee is directed to develop and update a Texas-wide power supply chain map for use during a disaster and to enhance emergency preparedness and response.
Recognizing the need for more accountability and oversight at the Public Utilities Commission [of Texas], Schwertner also passed SB 2154, which expanded the number of commissioners from three to five and added new eligibility requirements for commissioners.
The case for government intervention in electricity markets is based on an alleged Market Failure. Can we add Government Failure to compare the two? To ask the question is to answer it.