by Wendell Bell, Grid Monitor
Posted 05/27/2021

The Texas House of Representatives on May 26th approved an amended version of a Senate bill that would revise the criteria used by the Public Utility Commission (PUC) to evaluate applications for new high-voltage transmission lines.  It would add consumer impact tests along with new reliability assessments.

Under SB 1281 by Sen. Kelly Hancock and House sponsor Rep. Phil King, PUC approval would not be needed for extending transmission facilities to a load-serving substation or metering point if the line did not exceed three miles, all the necessary rights-of-way have been secured, and all affected landowners have granted written consent. 

For larger projects within the ERCOT region, PUC approval would include a comparison of the estimated costs for consumers and the estimated transmission congestion cost savings for consumers. The comparison would also have to consider both current and future expected congestion levels and the project’s ability to reduce those levels.

In addition, the bill would require ERCOT to conduct an annual assessment of the grid to assess its reliability in extreme weather scenarios. Each assessment would have to consider the impact of different levels of thermal and renewable generation availability and recommend transmission projects that could increase the grid’s reliability in extreme weather scenarios.

The amended bill passed by a vote of 142 to 1 and will be returned to the Senate for further consideration in the final days of the legislative session.  If the Senate does not accept the House version, the deadline for resolving differences between the Senate and House versions is May 30th.