LUBBOCK, Texas — State Representative Dustin Burrows called for Lubbock to pause before joining ERCOT – the Electric Reliability Council of Texas. Burrows did so Monday evening in a teleconference town hall discussion with voters.
ERCOT suffered widespread outages during a bitterly cold winter storm with 4 million or more homes and businesses left without power over the course of a few days.
Lubbock is on track to join on June 1. During the winter storm, Lubbock Power and Light was on the Southwest Power Pool, not ERCOT.
While SPP had rolling blackouts, LP&L was able to reduce the impact by having certain city facilities rely on back generators. Those generators reduced the overall load on the system allowing for smaller, shorter and fewer blackouts.
“I have some concerns about us moving into ERCOT,” Burrows said. Lubbock leaders, including the mayor and members of the city council, have used the word “concerns” while discussing the issue publicly.
“At least 57 people died in Texas as a result of last month’s winter storm, according to preliminary data the state health department released Monday,” the Texas Tribune reported.
State officials said ERCOT overcharged customers by billions of dollars after the storm. The specific dollar amount has been the subject of disagreement.
In February as the skies cleared and temperatures were starting to rise, an official statement said, “LP&L is on track to transfer approximately 70% of the electrical grid to the ERCOT market by June of this year.”
More specifically, June 1.
Governor Abbott made ERCOT’s pricing errors an emergency item for the current legislative session. But Abbot on Monday reminded Texans during a news conference that the situation is complicated and there might be state constitutional limits on what the state can do.
“I asked for a pause so we can figure out what the fix is,” Burrows said Monday in the town hall teleconference. Burrows said there are many unknowns.
“What I can tell you, right now, is the Texas legislature for the past two weeks has been hearing testimony and bills and doing everything we can to figure out what the solution is, so consumers don’t have to pay that,” Burrows said.
Above and beyond any billing problems, cost estimates were still coming in as of Monday for the process of winterizing natural gas wells and other facilities that affect the electric power supply.
“For those of us who are not in the ERCOT grid, hopefully there can be a bit of a pause before we join to make sure those things aren’t passed on to people who can’t afford it.”
State Senator Charles Perry of Lubbock also publicly called for Lubbock to pause. City leaders have not given a hard no, but they have also not given a clear yes.
Councilman Jeff Griffith was quoted as saying the Lubbock Power & Light Board could come to the city council with a recommendation to pause.