Lt. Governor Dan Patrick on Thursday called on Governor Greg Abbott to reverse billions of dollars of electricity overcharges that were a result of last month’s extreme winter storm, saying Abbott is the last option before a deadline tomorrow. Patrick said, “The governor is a very powerful person. He can do anything he wants.”
The Texas Senate, led by Patrick, approved a bill earlier in the week that would require the Electric Reliability Council of Texas to reverse $4 billion in charges, but the Texas House hasn’t considered the bill.
During a press conference Thursday afternoon, Patrick cited an opinion by Attorney General Ken Paxton that said the Public Utilities Commission, which oversees ERCOT, has the authority to reverse the charges and that during a declared emergency, Abbott possesses broad control of state agencies.
If Abbott does not reverse the charges on his own, Patrick said the governor can ask ERCOT to investigate the price spike during the storm, which gives the state legislature more time to consider the issue. Patrick said earlier this week he didn’t know who the winners or the losers are from the pricing spike.
Abbott spokesperson Renae Eze issued the following statement:
“In response to the winter storm, Gov. Abbott made three emergency items for the legislature to consider: winterization of the power system; reform of ERCOT; and inaccurate and excessive charges. The Governor made these emergency items because that’s exactly what they are.
He will continue working with the House and Senate to ensure policies are put in place that will protect Texans from excessive charges, help them recover from the storm and ensure this never happens again. Today, the Texas House is concluding hearings and is expected to vote tonight on significant legislation to address ERCOT reforms, winterization, and consumer protection, among other items related to our electric systems.
The Governor has been in conversations all week with Speaker Dade Phelan, Rep. Chris Paddie, and Senator Kelly Hancock on these and similar matters.”