Texas power grid reforms won't make it more reliable while still raising bills, study finds

An independent study found that proposed changes to the Texas electricity market won't do much to make the grid more reliable, but the changes will likely cost you more money.

The report comes as state regulators are expected to make more changes as part of reforms after the deadly 2021 winter storm.

The Texas Consumer Association recently published a deep dive into some of the proposed changes, and it's raising concerns about both reliability and cost.                                                                                      

As the Texas power grid approaches another winter, some of the more significant proposed changes to the grid after the 2021 disaster are still in the works.

With the state's Public Utility Commission now considering proposals for redesigning the market, Chairman Peter Lake discussed the process on Sunday's edition of Texas: The issue is.

"As we said from the beginning, the goal of phase two of market redesign is to continue to improve reliability while balancing costs to consumers and to incentivize new steel in the ground," he said in the interview.

But a consulting firm hired by the Texas Consumer Association found one proposal called LSEO could "cost Texans an additional $22.8 billion from 2025 to 2030 but would not make the state’s power grid significantly more reliable."

The TCA also says "the LSEO option would significantly enrich existing energy generators’ earnings more than the other alternatives."

Alison Silverstein used to work for the PUC and worked on the TCA's report.

"These are multi-billion-dollar decisions in terms of their impacts on our wallets as customers," she said.

The TCA's study found two other proposals would better improve reliability and cost less, potentially even lead to savings. 

However, the PUC was swift to knock the study down.

A PUC spokesperson wrote "the report you reference is at best premature, given the PUCT has not yet completed its own study of market re-design. This means any third-party analysis before the PUCT completes and releases its study is conjecture based upon incomplete information."

"This is literally life and death and wallet-breaking decisions that the PUC is going into," Silverstein said. "And every piece of quality analysis that they can get to help eliminate these important issues should be welcomed, not just sneered at."

The PUC's own study of its proposals is due out this month, but critics have raised concerns about its validity.

The firm hired for the job was hired by power companies last year to craft one of the very proposals its analyzing.

Consultant Doug Lewin was on the review committee for the TCA’s report.

"They put it forward, and now they're supposedly independently judging their own proposal? Right," he said. "I mean, it's like you're the student and the teacher grading your own paper."

Lewin notes taxpayers will still have a chance to chime in before any major decisions are made.

"There will be an opportunity for the public to submit comment and for stakeholders," he said. "Look, this is not a fait accompli."

A report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission released last month found the Texas grid is still vulnerable in extreme weather situations.