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New laws take effect in hopes of preventing rolling blackouts like those seen in February

New laws take effect in hopes of preventing rolling blackouts like those seen in February
Posted at 8:19 PM, Sep 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-01 21:22:51-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Two laws took effect on Wednesday that the Texas Legislature passed in response to the destructive and deadly rolling blackouts that resulted from February's deep freeze.

Senate Bill 2 makes changes to the board of directors of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, the operators of the state's power grid.

One change is that board members must live in Texas.

Five board members lived out of state when the deep freeze hit, and ERCOT received criticism for it.

"At least the people who are on the panel will be from our state and not from out of state," Robin Reames, whose Corpus Christi home and business were damaged by the deep freeze, said. "So at least maybe they’ll care that we don’t have electricity."

Senate Bill 3 instructs the Public Utility Commission of Texas to make sure power generating companies winterize their plants.

Days of freezing temperatures knocked some plants offline which is one of the reasons ERCOT resorted to the rolling blackouts.

That bill may have taken effect Wednesday, but the PUC says it's already in the process of enforcing those changes at power plants.

“We’ve been working as a team, working to grow our team, working closely with other agencies, working with the companies that actually generate, transmit, and deliver that power to do everything we can to make things better,” PUC Director of External Affairs Andrew Barlow said.

The goal is to have all plants winterized by December.

One power provider is doing one better.

NRG said in a statement, "In the months following Winter Storm Uri, we completed a robust internal and 3rd party root-cause analysis. As a result, we are updating all of our weatherization protocols in Texas to a stronger standard before November 2021."

Whether those changes and the changes to ERCOT's board of directors prevents future blackouts, only time will tell.

Reames, who estimates her damage cost her $5,000 to repair, is hopeful they will.

“I’m small business," she said. "That’s huge for me. So it was rough. And it was scary, because you didn’t know if you were going to have a place to stay. I’m just hoping that that never ever happens again.”