Texas Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa will participate in a legislative hearing next week to examine what went wrong with the state’s electric grid last week.

State Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen.

Hinojosa will be front and center as vice chairman of the Senate Jurisprudence Committee at a hearing scheduled for 9 a.m. March 4.

“The purpose of this hearing is to examine the legal responsibilities that the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) and the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC) owe to the people of Texas,” a legal notice for the hearing stated. “The committee will review the legal framework for governance and oversight of these two entities, their relationship to one another under the law, potential legal liabilities, and the legal limits on increases to consumer electricity rates during an emergency.”

The hearing is a direct result of what is widely seen as a failure by ERCOT to prepare for a winter storm that left millions without power as frigid temperatures swept the state.

“What is occurring across our state is unacceptable,” Hinojosa said in a news release last week. “Texas is the 9th largest economy in the world and a winter storm should not have to completely shut down our economy and expose our Texas families to this health risk and suffering.”

The hearing will study whether additional jurisprudential safeguards, such as statutes or administrative provisions, could have prevented the ongoing public utility crisis. It will also examine price gouging under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act.

Last week, members of the Public Utility Commission of Texas met in an emergency meeting to discuss raising the price of electricity to reflect its scarcity, a move that has since been widely criticized.

“I look forward to joining Chairwoman (Joan) Huffman and my colleagues on the Senate Jurisprudence Committee in asking tough questions to ERCOT leadership, charged with overseeing the reliability and security of the energy grid, and the PUC,” Hinojosa said.

Senate members will hear invited testimony only, and a live video feed can be viewed at https://senate.Texas.gov/av-live.php.


nlopez@themonitor.com