Governor Greg Abbott got right back to work on Tuesday following the 4th of July holiday break with a strong message for the state's Public Utility Commission ordering them to take action to improve the reliability of electricity throughout the state.

Several reforms have been passed during the 87th legislative session aimed at increasing our state's ability to generate power and to provide sustainability to our power grid. The Governor is focusing on four immediate actions spelled out on Tuesday.

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Governor Abbott's letter to the Public Utility Commission

In a letter to the PUC (available here) the four areas of focus include incentives within the ERCOT market, reliability costs, establish an ERCOT maintenance schedule, and finally, the Governor is asking the Public Utility Commission to accelerate Ercots transmission projects which help protect the power grid with a backup supply of sorts.

ERCOT Market Incentives

The first area of focus on the Governor's wish list to the PUC is to "streamline incentives in the ERCOT market" that develop and maintain reliable sources of power like natural gas, coal, and nuclear power. The Public Utility Commission already has the ability to redesign the market to create incentives for reliable electric generating plants to help the state meet reliability requirements. Abbott is ordering them to use that ability to create a more reliable capacity to generate power when it is needed.

Covering Reliability Costs of Wind and Solar Power

Texas uses wind and solar power to help generate the electricity it needs to run the state. When wind and solar can not get the job done, Abbott wants the PUC to have those providers cover the cost of any failure to generate needed electricity. He wants any and all providers of electricity to be able to ensure a minimal amount of power at any given time when it's needed.

Revise the Ercot Maintenance Schedule

The third area of focus in the Governor's letter is to streamline the ERCOT maintenance schedule so that we don't see non-renewable (natural gas, coal, nuclear power) energy providers go offline at the same time or for extended periods of time to undergo maintenance. Abbott wants this schedule reworked to ensure that a low number of generation plants are offline at any given time helping to ensure reliability around the clock, and preventing any artificial shortages due to too many of these plants from being offline at the same time.

Increase Transmission Projects to Increase Connectivity

Lastly, Abbott wants the PUC to increase the availability of backup power from natural gas, coal, and power plants. The connectivity of these options means that the power grid could be able to call on non-renewable energy as needed to make sure reliable power is being provided across the state. Abbott wants to make sure that the state has the means to tap into these other energy sources to help sustain the grid when needed.

Abbot's letter to the PUC calls for them to take immediate action by diving into these four areas of focus. The Governor came right out and said that these steps are vital for the PUC and ERCOT to regain the trust of the residents of the state of Texas and to restore the good standing of these organizations. Time to get to work.

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