Harris County to explore leaving Texas power grid

(FOX 26 Houston)

Could Harris County be leaving the Texas power grid? Harris County Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia presented an agenda item that could lead to that. 

In the agenda item, it says, "‘what steps in regards to state statute and electricity infrastructure would need to be taken to remove Harris County from the service area of independent system operators that are primarily governed by the Public Utility Commission of Texas, such as the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT).’

Last week, a major winter storm moved across the state causing power outages for millions. 

According to the release, Liberty County is one of several in East Texas that are in the service area of the Midcontinent Independent System Operator or MISO, which is an independent system operator and regional transmission organization. 

The release stated that MISO’s regulation and oversight falls under the jurisdiction of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission or FERC and is in the Eastern Interconnect grid. 

The agenda item is asking the County Attorney’s Office what powers the Court or other county elected officials possess to place Harris County in the service area of an electric grid not primarily governed by State agencies including the Public Utility Commission of Texas.

Garcia released a statement saying, "In 2011, state officials promised to get to the bottom of why widespread power outages resulted from a hard freeze. No significant actions were taken. In 2013, much of Texas was introduced to then-Attorney General Greg Abbott, who was the first state officeholder to respond to the explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, TX. No significant changes came from state action to further prevent a similar disaster from happening. In fact, as recently as January of 2020, in response to several plant explosions happening in a short period of time locally, Governor Abbott tweeted that ‘Texas will work with Houston and Harris County on strategies to reduce—and hopefully eliminate—them’. That also never happened. I can’t speak for the other members of court, but I am concerned with the State’s leadership inability to keep promises they have made to their constituents during disasters. This agenda item is meant to explore how we in Harris County can take ownership of keeping residents safe, something the state has clearly shown it can’t be trusted to do itself."