AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick gathered a bipartisan group of state senators on Thursday to announce a sweeping package of bills he argued will bolster the reliability of the power grid and lower energy costs.
Senator Charles Schwertner, chairman of the Business and Commerce committee, first introduced a new “Texas Energy Insurance Program” that Senate Bill 6 would create. He said this will add 10,000 megawatts of power to Texas’ energy supply.
“Texas needs its own backup generation when weather is bad,” he said. “This proposal puts new steel in the ground, ensures more electrons are flowing in our power lines.”
Senate Bill 6 also establishes a “state-backed, low-cost loan program” which Sen. Schwertner compared to SWIFT, or the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas. That program provides financial assistance to local water projects.
“This is not building a capacity market. It is an insurance product,” Schwertner said. “The energy only market has been very successful here in Texas at keeping costs down. But it is again important to have a backup system so that Texans can be reassured that we have the power necessary in times of crisis.”
Senate Bill 7 is also in Lt. Gov. Patrick’s top 10 priorities. This bill hopes to incentivize the creation of new dispatchable energy in a way Patrick argued would “level the playing field” between renewable and non-renewable energy.
The senators’ bill package includes seven other bills.
The Sierra Club was quick to criticize the plan as a costly favor to fossil fuel interest groups.
“This could be very expensive for consumers,” the Sierra Club’s Texas conservation director Cyrus Reed said. “I think who it benefits most is existing generators that own fossil fuel plants. They would be paid more in the market.”