I think last session, after the Uri winter storm, we knew that the grid was really not able to withstand a super cold season or a super hot summer. And we made reforms. 

But those reforms were not enough. We replaced the PUC, the public utility commission. We replaced the board of ERCOT, which manages the grid. We also required the producers, the power generators, the gas generators to winterize their equipment, their production equipment. We also tried to identify all the grid infrastructure that needed weatherization. 

The problem is, we did not we mandate it. We let them do it at their own pace, and let the PUC and the Railroad Commission set the rules, which I think was a mistake.

In that short period of time when the Uri winter storm hit, those producers, the gas producers, the generators, made $11 billion in profit. Eleven billion dollars and they were complaining that it (the reforms) was going to cost so much. I’m sorry, you made $11 billion of profit, you’ve got to reinvest some of that money back into infrastructure to keep people from dying from cold weather, to keep people from dying of hot weather. It is a huge problem. For us, we need to continue pushing hard to make sure that we winterize and force them to winterize their power stations. 

And one more point. This is very important. We are not connected to the national grid. It’s a huge mistake. If we were connected to the national grid and we were short on power, we could connect and we could have gotten power from other states in the nation. We didn’t do that. We don’t do that. It is a very parochial approach in my opinion. So, we need to do that, to connect to them. 

I think the other issue with what happened was the amount of money that we allowed the generators to charge per kilowatt hour. They (were) allowed (to charge) the metro amount, which I think was $9, which was way overpriced. And, at the end of the day, we all paid for this. With the $11 billion they made we are all paying for it, because, in the Senate, we tried pass legislation to get some of the money back, to craw some of the money back and put it back in your pockets. In the Senate we supported that 100 percent but we could not get it out of the House. Well, I should say the House leadership. I am not blaming my friend here (state Rep. Bobby Guerra), but there were issues, disagreements between the House and the Senate and the Governor’s Office. 

Editor’s Note: The above remarks were made by state Sen. Juan Hinojosa of McAllen at a Legislative Update Luncheon hosted by the RGV Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and held at the Radisson Hotel McAllen Airport. Hinojosa made his remarks in response to a question from the moderator, UT-Rio Grande Valley Vice President Veronica Gonzales, about the state of Texas’ response to Winter Storm Uri. Winter Storm Uri occurred Feb. 13-17, 2021.

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above commentary shows UT-Rio Grande Valley Vice President Veronica Gonzales, state Sen. Juan Hinojosa of McAllen, and state Rep. R.D. ‘Bobby’ Guerra of McAllen, at a recent RGV Hispanic Chamber of Commerce legislative update luncheon.

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