Public Utility Commission of Texas agrees to new electricity model

The model will allow Texans to buy and sell electricity based on the performance credit mechanism, or PCM
At today's meeting, the PUC ultimately agreed to recommend a new model by which Texans can buy...
At today's meeting, the PUC ultimately agreed to recommend a new model by which Texans can buy and sell electricity based on the performance credit mechanism, or PCM.(Eddie Gaspar/The Texas Tribune)
Published: Jan. 19, 2023 at 5:54 PM CST
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - The Public Utility Commission of Texas, or PUC, met this morning to discuss and possibly take action on a plan to redesign Texas’ electricity market.

After the fatal winter storm of 2021 that left thousands without power, ERCOT, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, made changes to prevent a future power grid crisis.

Among those was holding more power plants in reserve to produce energy more often.

But Dr. Joshua Rhodes, a research scientist at the University of Texas at Austin, says adding more power plants to the grid hasn’t made it more reliable.

“Potomac Economics is hired by the state to monitor ERCOT,” Rhodes, who holds a Ph.D. in civil engineering, told KWTX. “The market monitor actually put out a report that said it was costing Texans billions of dollars per year, but wasn’t really meaningfully increasing reliability.”

The PUC met today to discuss how the commission can create a plan to redesign Texas’ electricity market that does make it more reliable, while keeping costs top of mind.

“As we’re selecting potentially technical parameters that are key features to a market design change, every step of the way we are keeping all consumers in mind,” Lori Cobos, one of the PUC commissioners, said at the meeting.

The commission spent hours deliberating, ultimately agreeing to recommend a new model by which Texans can buy and sell electricity based on the performance credit mechanism, or PCM.

“This is a big step for ERCOT,” Peter Lake, the chair for the PUC, said as the meeting concluded.

It’s a big step that Rhodes says will likely make electricity more expensive.

“Electricity prices are already elevated for other reasons across the state,” Rhodes told KWTX. “The price of natural gas is higher than it’s been in the past, the price of coal is higher than it’s been in the past. And we get 60% of our electricity from those sources. So it is gonna add to an already increasing energy price reality that we’re in.”