Texas Legislative Wrap-Up: A Summary of Electricity-Related Bills Passed by the 84th Legislature
On September 1, new bills passed by the 84th Texas legislature go into effect. These bills affect a variety of Texas electric market stakeholders, including transmission and distribution utilities, electric utilities, conventional and renewable energy generators, retail customers, and desalination projects. The following is a summary of new legislation impacting the Texas power market.
Transmission and Distribution
Two bills add additional Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) oversight to potential new DC ties to ERCOT for the import and export of power from other electric markets.
SB 776: Relating to the authority of the PUCT to approve certain transmission facilities constructed by a municipally-owned utility
This bill requires municipally-owned utilities to obtain a certificate of convenience and necessity (CCN) before building transmission outside their municipal boundaries. The bill contains exemptions for Pattern’s Southern Cross Project and, according to the PUCT, the Tenaska Brownsville power plant. The bill allows municipally-owned utilities that build transmission outside their boundaries to recover the costs of payments in lieu of taxes in the utility’s wholesale transmission rate. The bill also has a number of provisions that relate to the governance of the Texas Municipal Power Agency.
SB 933: Relating to the authority of the PUCT to review transmission interconnections that enable imports or exports from the ERCOT power grid
This bill prohibits interconnecting a DC tie to import or export power from ERCOT without prior CCN approval by the PUCT. A CCN application will be required at least 180 days before seeking a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) order related to the interconnection. The PUCT will apply the requirements of Texas Utility Code § 37.056, as well as look at whether the application is consistent with the public interest in determining whether to grant the CCN. The bill also provides that the PUCT shall approve an application under this section for the Southern Cross project within 185 days of filing the application and that the PUCT may approve “reasonable conditions to protect the public interest.”
Several bills impact the residential solar and energy efficiency markets.
SB 1626: Relating to regulation by a developer of the installation of solar energy devices in a residential subdivision