DALLAS (KXAN) — A bipartisan duo of federal lawmakers from Texas plan to work across the aisle on a bill that would help fund protective measures against extreme weather for the state’s electric grid.
U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Dallas, and Republican U.S. Senator John Cornyn held a news conference outside an electrical substation in Dallas Thursday afternoon to discuss the POWER ON Act.
According to a news release from the legislators, the POWER ON Act “will assist Texas power providers, distributors, and suppliers with funding to winterize their facilities and infrastructure to prepare for future extreme weather events.”
Cornyn told reporters Thursday that the proposal would provide $500 million worth of grants to states to “improve and harden the equipment that’s already in place.” Johnson pointed out the legislation calls for states to match some of the funding, which would affect how much they’d ultimately receive in federal grants.
“We cannot promise you when it will go into effect,” Johnson said. “We’re facing a lot of challenges coming up, and we will be in the midst of those challenges.”
This proposed legislation is part of a federal effort to respond to the deadly winter storms that hit Texas in February, which resulted in the deaths of 125 people statewide.
Cornyn and Johnson said their bill “aims to prevent a future severe storm, like the one Texas saw in February, from crippling our electrical grid and leaving countless Texans without electricity for days on end.”
Following the devastating storms in February, Gov. Greg Abbott named the weatherization of all of the state’s energy infrastructure a legislative priority to protect it from sub-freezing temperatures. State lawmakers have since filed bills pursuing that goal at the Texas Capitol.
Earlier this week, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) released a preliminary report on causes behind the mass generator outages during Winter Storm Uri. ERCOT, which controls the flow of power in the state, indicates that the largest cause of outages from Monday, Feb. 15 to Friday, Feb. 19 is, unsurprisingly, “weather-related” problems.