Bill would connect Texas to neighboring power grids

February 16, 2024

A Texas Congressman and 16 other representatives have introduced legislation that would require the Lone Star State to connect to the nation’s power grid.

The state’s grid, which draws nearly no power from outside the state, and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) — the nonprofit that operates the grid — have been under scrutiny since 2021. That year 10 million Texans lost power, 246 died and the state suffered an estimated $100 million in economic damage during Winter Storm Uri.

Texas established its own grid following the passage of the 1935 Power Act, which gave the federal government the authority to regulate power transactions between states. Texas wanted to avoid selling or purchasing electricity from other states and to establish freedom from federal oversight, the state comptroller’s office said.

The Connect the Grid Act introduced by Congressional District 35 Rep. Greg Casar (D-Texas) would:

  • Require interconnection between ERCOT and neighboring grids.
  • Subject ERCOT to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) oversight for pricing and planning.
  • Require FERC and the Department of Energy (DOE) to conduct a study on the benefits of interconnection with Mexico.

Proponents of the bill said the disaster wrought by Winter Storm Uri could have been largely avoided if Texas had been connected to neighboring grids. Each additional gigawatt of transmission tied between the Texas power grid and the Southeastern U.S. could have saved nearly $1 billion, while keeping the heat on for hundreds of thousands of Texans, Casar’s office said.

About 90% of the state’s electricity is run solely through the Texas grid.

The remaining 10%, including El Paso on the western border and Beaumont on the southeastern border, are connected to other grids and did not suffer mass power outages during Winter Storm Uri in 2021.

That’s the flexibility Casar said he would like Texas to have.

“We can draw power from other states when we need it and sell power when we have a surplus,” Casar said. “We can keep the lights on, and make sure that no family is left stranded in a mass power outage again.”

ERCOT said connecting Texas to neighboring grids may not be the panacea proponents of the bill think.

“Many weather-related events are regional in nature and a weather event that is adversely affecting Texas is more than likely negatively affecting surrounding states resulting in a diminished capacity for ERCOT to import power from the neighboring grid,” an ERCOT spokesperson said.

ERCOT also said interconnection could have future implications for the state’s electricity market, adding that developers could see increased importing from potentially less expensive markets as disincentives to build new generation facilities in Texas.

“ERCOT would have less access to this new generation than if it had been built in Texas. This will be especially true during extreme weather conditions impacting multiple regions,” ERCOT said.

All news and information on this site is provided by the team at Strategic Partnerships, Inc. Check out this short 1-minute video that provides a quick overview of how we work with clients.

Photo by BFS Man

Miles Smith

Miles Smith has more than two decades of communications experience in the public and private sectors, including several years of covering local governments for various daily and weekly print publications. His scope of work includes handling public relations for large private-sector corporations and managing public-facing communications for local governments.

Smith has recently joined the team as a content writer for SPI’s news publications, which include Texas Government Insider, Government Contracting Pipeline and its newest digital product, Government Market News, which launched in September 2023. He graduated from Texas A&M University with a bachelor’s in journalism.

Don't Miss

Massive support, funding now available to improve supply-chain networks

New opportunities for multimodal freight, rail, and port projects are
A hospital hallway.

New hospitals greenlit for Amarillo, Wichita Falls

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) is searching