AUSTIN, Texas — Fixing the state's power grid issues quickly rose to the top of priorities for lawmakers this session. But with less than a month to go, energy experts are voicing concerns that the proposals don't go far enough.
The February storm left millions of Texans without electricity for days in freezing temperatures. The death toll recently surpassed 150.
Measures advancing at the Texas Capitol would require weatherization of power plants to withstand such extreme temperatures. Failure to do so could result in a fine. Implementing emergency alert systems is also a priority. So is overhauling the board of the state's power grid operator — commonly referred to as ERCOT. Lawmakers want to replace experts with political appointees, which has been a point of contention experts say may do little to improve the power grid.
But Rep. Chris Paddie, R-Marshall, says there will be criteria in place.
"It wouldn't be a situation where we're diminishing the value of these members or the desired set amount of expertise that we're looking for for these very important positions," he said.
The appointees must also live in Texas.
A Senate proposal requires all generation, transmission and natural gas facilities and pipelines in the state to weatherize equipment under threat of a $1 million daily fine for failure to comply. The House plan differs, but Rep. Paddie says the chamber is open to discussion.
"We want to ensure there's compliance and when there's not, there's enforceability. That there's actually teeth there. That these are not just suggestions and we hope folks will do the right thing," he said. "We recognize that now, more than ever, there's a need to make sure there's clear direction as to what is expected and there's compliance and if not, there's enforceability."
Click the video link above to watch our full interview with Rep. Paddie.