Connect the Grid Act: Texas congress members introduce bill to connect grids

Flanked by several of his Texas Democratic colleagues in Congress, Rep. Greg Casar introduced a bill Wednesday to connect the Texas power grid with the rest of the country. 

The announcement was made on Capitol Hilll, three years since an unprecedented winter storm brought the Texas power grid to its knees.

"We can prevent blackouts, save billions of dollars, and fight the climate crisis across this country," said Casar.

The bill would require interconnection between ERCOT and other grids, which means additional transmission capacity would have to be built. It would also bring ERCOT under federal regulation.

"ERCOT failed us. The members of the board of ERCOT failed us," said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee.

MORE: Connect the Grid Act: Bill seeks to connect Texas, national grids

During the 2021 winter storm, a state grid failure left 10 million Texans without power, leading to nearly 250 deaths in our state.

"We cannot allow it to happen again," said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.

"Connecting to the national grid is the safest, most reliable way to make sure that we don't repeat the mistakes of three years ago," said Rep. Joaquin Castro.

Union leaders say building those new lines could mean new jobs.

"This would create a transmission construction boom in Texas and surrounding states," said Christian Wagner, vice president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

But in a statement, ERCOT suggested that construction would be expensive, and pushed back on claims that power would be cheaper:

"…when ERCOT prices are lower than the neighboring region, the ERCOT ratepayer could end up paying more for energy."

ERCOT also raised questions about reliability, saying:

"Additional import capability does not necessarily equate to greater reliability.  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."

University of Texas at Austin research scientist Joshua Rhodes says the proposal is ambitious.

"It would be probably pretty hard to realize all of it."

However, he says the overall concept could work.

"Some of our analysis points that it might actually be, you know, a pretty good idea to do," said Rhodes. "And so we do see some of those reliability benefits of being able to rely on our on our neighbors."

ERCOT says it believes plugging in to other grids could actually deter new power plants from being built in Texas.

The Public Utility Commission of Texas declined to comment to FOX 7.

FOX 7 reached out to Gov. Greg Abbott’s office for comment, but as of Tuesday night we have not heard back.