ERCOT Oversight Legislation Passes Texas Senate
AUSTIN - Legislation that would increase the Public Utility Commission's (PUC) authority to oversee the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) was approved by the full Senate on Thursday. The legislation's author, Senator Troy Fraser (R-Horseshoe Bay) said, "I am happy with today's vote, this legislation will build confidence in ERCOT and I hope the House views it the same way."
SB 743 provides clear authority for the PUC to interact and oversee ERCOT. The bill allows the PUC to require reports, prescribe systems of accounts, conduct audits, inspect facilities, assess penalties, resolve disputes, and adopt and enforce rules for ERCOT.
Senator Fraser introduced the legislation earlier this year after Attorney General Greg Abbott announced the indictments of five former top managers and one associate contractor at ERCOT who reportedly embezzled millions from the organization.
The indictments are the result of an extensive investigation by the Department of Public Safety, Williamson County District Attorney's Office, and Office of the Attorney General. The investigation uncovered a network of fictitious companies that billed ERCOT more than $2 million for work that was never completed. Often, the work was contracted to companies with nonexistent or dead employees.
SB 743 directs the ERCOT stakeholders to appoint two additional independent members to the ERCOT board of directors, as well as requires all members of the ERCOT board of directors to disclose any conflicts of interest and recuse themselves from any vote directly related to those interests.
Founded in 1970, ERCOT is an independent, third-party, non-profit organization responsible for overseeing the reliability and safety of Texas' electric grid.