Will PUCT Hold on PCM Plans?
In a letter signed by nine members of the Texas Senate, lawmakers told the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) to hold their horses. The agency’s recently announced plans to revamp the Texas power market go beyond what Senate Bill 3 says. The letter tells PUCT to wait for lawmakers to weigh in before carrying out their Performance Credit Mechanism or “PCM” plan.
The nine signers make up the Senate Committee on Business and Commerce. After a letter like that, you can bet your mortgage payment PUCT will await further instructions. These senators feel PUCT misses the point of SB 3. And lawmakers don’t take kindly to state agencies failing to meet the intent of high profile new laws. The next legislative session begins January 10. During the 180-day session, lawmakers will consider the power grid and a myriad of other issues. Expect some uncomfortable committee hearings with pointed questions for PUCT leaders.
Hold on PCM, But Then What?
A few lawmakers say the state needs more “dispatchable generation” and PUCT plans don’t make a clear path for reaching that goal. In other words, Texas needs power plants it can turn on and off as demand varies. These plants sell power to retail providers who in turn sell to homes and businesses. In a nutshell, that’s how your lights come on and stay on.
Last month, PUCT floated sweeping proposals including Forward Reliability Market (FRM) with its PCM plan. Under FMR, the state would dole out monetary rewards to power generators based on their performance during peak demand. The wording of the senators’ letter appears to favor a more traditional regulatory model with standards and penalties for non-compliance.
Senators worry market redesign plans will confuse industry players. In this mindset, companies will delay building new power plants. And Texas needs more power to keep up with growing demand. Falling only behind property tax relief, shoring up the state’s energy supply is Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick’s second most important priority for this session. ERCOT has said making the market redesign happen could take a few years, so firms may take a wait-and-see approach to investing.
Texas Electric Service
No matter what lawmakers and PUCT do, you need a power plan for your home. The best place to shop for electric service is http://www.texaselectricityratings. Here you’ll always get the best prices on a wide range of plans. You have the power to choose your provider, so arm yourself with the right data.