JOINT LEGISLATIVE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE ON ELECTRIC UTILITY RESTRUCTURING MET TODAY
AUSTIN - The Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Electric Utility Restructuring met today at the State Capitol to hear invited testimony on the implementation of Senate Bill 7 (SB7), relating to electric utility restructuring and to the powers and duties of the Public Utility Commission of Texas, Office of Public Utility Counsel, and Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission. The electric utility restructuring bill passed during the 76th Legislative Session.
Senator David Sibley from Waco and Representative Steve Wolens of Dallas serve as co-chairs of the joint committee. Other members are Senators David Cain of Dallas, Frank Madla of San Antonio, Jane Nelson of Flower Mound, John Whitmire of Houston, along with Representatives Kim Brimer of Arlington, David Counts of Knox City, Debra Danburg and Sylvester Turner both of Houston.
Testimony was presented to the committee by:
Pat Wood, chair of the Public Utility Commission, who spoke on power plant emissions, regional gas supplies, the construction of new plants, and utilizing natural gas transmission lines.
Jeff Saitas, Executive Director for the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (TNRCC), gave testimony concerning the TNRCC's compliance with the environmental provisions of SB 7, and updating outdated equipment in power generation plants. Mr. Saitas also praised various state agencies that have cooperated with the TNRCC in implementing SB 7.
Sam Jones, Director for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) Independent System Operator, spoke on distribution problems for energy providers and the duties for qualifying as an independent utility organization under SB 7.
Next, there was a panel discussion on Capacity and Transmission Constraints. Panel members included Steve Schaeffer of the Associated Electric Companies of Texas, Frank McCamant of the Lower Colorado River Authority, and Jim Tramuto from the PG&E Corporation. The panel discussed electric reserve margins, consumer rights, the need to focus on liquid market results in order to evaluate the utility market's vitality, and how weather conditions throughout Texas have influenced utility markets within the state.
Finally, Bill Burchette of Brickfield, Burchette and Ritts, provided testimony regarding renewable energy mandate rulemaking activities.
The Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Electric Utility Restructuring plans to hold more public hearings during the interim. The committee will submit its findings from these hearings in the form of a report to be presented to the 77th Legislature, which convenes in January of 2001.