Author Archive

Grateful for President Trump’s Protection

July 15, 2024

On Saturday, we were all shocked and angered at the turn of events in Pennsylvania, when President Trump survived a near-miss assassination attempt. Terry and I are so grateful that God saw fit to spare the life of our 45th President.  

After returning from church yesterday I felt compelled to write a letter to my kids concerning my thoughts on this situation. What came to mind were the immortal words of Thomas Paine, written in the fall of 1776, when he stated, “These are the times that try men’s souls.” In July the Declaration of Independence had been signed, but the Revolutionary War was not going well. In fact, the American army’s situation was desperate. Victory was far from ensured.  

Earlier that year, Paine had published the pamphlet Common Sense, which inspired the colonists by clearly articulating the call for independence that was growing in their hearts. By autumn, General Washington shared with Paine that the troops needed another call to arms to boost their morale, something to explain the perilous times. Paine retreated to Philadelphia where he wrote a new article, The American Crisis. More from that historic letter is below, which inspired the American soldiers and helped turn the tide in the Revolutionary War: 

“These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated.”

Today, these are indeed perilous and difficult times, and I believe we are in another “American Crisis.” Violence rules our streets. In fact, over 100 people where shot in Chicago over the Fourth of July weekend! Our borders are open, allowing free entry to criminals and terrorists, along with thousands of illegal immigrants we simply cannot absorb. Fentanyl is a leading killer of our citizens.  We have a national debt with numbers too large to apprehend. I could go on and on.

Then, the events of Saturday shocked us all. Yet God in his providence ensured that the bullet aimed for President Trump did not succeed. I believe that Donald Trump will win in November and begin the process of implementing the policies that previously benefited our nation. 

God established this nation and he has sustained it over three centuries. In two years we will reach our 250th anniversary as a free and independent republic. I do not believe God is through with America. These are again “times that try men’s souls,” yet we must not be “summer soldiers” or “sunshine patriots.” Let us resolve ourselves to be light to the world and strong warriors for what is right. “Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered” yet, “the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.”

Important Summer Hearings, National Fox News Appearance, Runoffs Settled

July 1, 2024

With summer well underway, I want to check in and update you on some recent news.  I hope your summer is going well.
 
Fox News Appearance:  Restoring the Ten Commandments Back in Schools

Early on a recent Saturday morning, I was interviewed by the hosts of “Fox and Friends” concerning Texas’ plans to restore the Ten Commandments back in schools.  You can watch that interview HERE.

Last year, I passed the Ten Commandments bill in the Texas Senate. While it wasn’t brought up for a vote in the Texas House, we will file it again when we reconvene in January 2025.
The Ten Commandments is part of our history. It’s who we are. Few documents have had a bigger impact on western civilization than the Ten Commandments. If you don’t know the Ten Commandments you don’t know the basis for much of American history and law. 

Up until 1980, the Ten Commandments were commonly seen in public buildings and schools. In 1980, SCOTUS stopped that in Stone v. Graham relying only on a 1971 case, Lemon v. Kurtzman. SCOTUS overturned Lemon in 2022 in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District. That opens the door for the Ten Commandments to return to schools.
 
Important Interim Hearings on Border Security, Criminal Justice, and our Electric Grid

Even though we have a part-time citizen legislature, the work of policymakers continues throughout the year.  One of those ways is through “interim hearings”, where we assess the impact of legislation we passed in the most recent session and consider new legislation needed in the coming one. Below is a summary of some of those hearings that I have participated in over the past month. If you wish to watch any of these archived hearings, you may click on this link.  

Criminal Justice Committee Hearings- June 5th and June 6th

As the newly appointed Vice-Chair of the Senate Committee on Criminal Justice, I recently participated in two interim hearings addressing bail reform and child predators’ use of artificial intelligence (AI) to harm and exploit children. During these hearings, the Committee received testimony examining charitable organizations that pay bail for defendants and considered how these organizations can be further restricted from posting bail for violent individuals.

The Committee also heard testimony from law enforcement officials explaining how child predators are using deepfake technology and AI to create sexually explicit visual material involving children. Prosecutors, including Tarrant County Assistant District Attorney Lori Varnell, provided strict recommendations for how the state can further criminalize this behavior.  Aledo resident Anna Berry McAdams shared how her daughter and other Aledo High School students were victim to such exploitation with the use of AI. By sharing her daughter’s story, Ms. McAdams is helping shed light on new dangers threatening our children. The Senate Committee on Criminal Justice is actively working to address this pressing issue and, with the passage of HB 2700 last session, clarified that this behavior is criminal. My committee members and I remain committed to strengthening state law penalizing this behavior and providing law enforcement with the tools needed to convict these offenders.

Border Security Committee Hearing – June 11th

The Senate Committee on Border Security met to review state and local agencies’ participation in border security.  We reviewed Operation Lone Star, from its costs to personnel deployments. Texas is still deploying a tremendous amount of resources to try to solve a federal problem. The pronouncement from the Biden administration on June 4th, which would allow the first 2,500 illegal immigrations to enter the country per day, underscores that the most important thing we can do to ensure border security is to defeat Joe Biden this November and elect Donald Trump.

It was encouraging to learn that Texas has seen a 74% decrease in illegal border crossings since Operation Lone Star was implemented in March of 2021.  I also heard from agency leaders speaking on the communication between Texas law enforcement agencies, local law enforcement, and Federal Border Patrol agents to ensure the illegal crossings response is coordinated with a swift deterrence.  It was impressive to learn that there is a 97% volunteer rate for Texas Military Department personnel that decide to leave their post and go to the Southern Border to participate in Operation Lone Star.

While there are positives to take from the hearing, I also heard from local sheriffs who reported that highspeed pursuits have increased, leading to dangerous situations for law enforcement and other drivers on these highways. Additionally, we learned federal support for these local law enforcement jurisdictions is nonexistent; instead, federal agencies are opting to allocate grant funds to non-governmental organizations who operate with no oversight on how these funds are spent. Our next hearing is September 19th, when we will further discuss supporting our border security personnel and monitor priority legislation passed in the 88th Legislative Session.

Business & Commerce Committee Hearing – June 12th

The Senate Business and Commerce Committee, where I serve as Vice Chair, discussed incentives for new thermal generation, identifying future electric transmission and distribution system needs of the state, as well as the impact of bitcoin on the Texas electric grid.

During the last two legislative sessions we’ve taken tremendous steps in increasing the reliability and resilience of our grids through weatherization, and providing incentives for companies to build new gas-fired power plants.  However, the federal government’s policies are still placing our grid at risk. 

Our state population is growing very fast, and much of the growth is heavily dependent on a high power load, such as new factories and industries coming to Texas that demand a lot of electricity. Bitcoin mining in the state also uses an extraordinary amount of electricity. Additionally, the recent boost of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and cloud-based technologies are adding to the demand.  We heard concerning testimony from ERCOT CEO Pablo Vegas that within six years, our power grid needs will grow from about 85,000 to 150,000 megawatts (MW), well beyond the 110,000 MW previously projected.  As a policymaker entrusted with ensuring Texas has the power we need, I believe I will be spending an increasing amount of time in meeting this challenge.
 
The Runoffs Are Settled

The runoffs are behind us, and I congratulate our two Republican nominees for CD-12 and SD-30, Craig Goldman and Brent Hagenbuch. As you know, I strongly endorsed Craig Goldman for Congress, and Brent Hagenbuch for Texas Senate.

First, let me congratulate Craig Goldman, who won his primary runoff with over 62% of the vote, and over 58% from here in Parker County. As I’ve stated before, Craig is a longtime friend of mine and Terry’s. I’ve worked with him in the Texas Legislature for well over a decade. I know he will be an effective conservative Congressman for Parker County. We need to lock arms and guarantee that he wins his November race with a strong margin, which with your support I know he will do.

Brent Hagenbuch won his primary runoff with over 56% of the vote, earning over 61% here in Parker County. Brent is a Naval Academy graduate who served over a decade on active duty.  He’s a Texas entrepreneur who created a successful business from the ground up and now runs a national trucking business with hundreds of employees.  Like Craig, he does face a Democrat opponent in November. After winning that race, I look forward to partnering with him to ensure strong conservative representation for Parker County and SD 30.

It’s Election Day!

May 28, 2024

Today is Election Day! You’ll find links for voting locations for counties in SD 10 that have local runoffs at the bottom of this email. Polls are open from 7 am to 7 pm. As long as you’re in line by 7 pm, you’ll be able to vote.  I have made endorsements in two key races:

Craig Goldman for Congress

In Congressional District 12, I am strongly endorsing Craig Goldman, a businessman and former staff member for Senator Phil Gramm. For over a decade, we’ve worked together to advance conservative principles.  I know Craig to be a strong pro-life advocate, committed to border security, and a passionate defender of Israel. Terry and I have traveled to Israel with Craig when Lockheed delivered the first F-35.  Most recently, in light of the brutal attacks by Hamas, we collaborated on a joint House/Senate resolution making clear that Texas stands with Israel, a resolution now considered the national model for states. Terry and I have known Craig Goldman for many years, and we are proud to endorse our longtime friend.  (As an aside, please ignore the lies on those red signs being posted illegally in right of way areas. Craig has always voted to ban gender modification surgeries on minors.)

Brent Hagenbuch for SD 30

In Senate District 30, Brent Hagenbuch has earned my endorsement. Brent is a Naval Academy graduate who served over a decade on active duty.  He’s a Texas entrepreneur who created a successful business from the ground up and now runs a national trucking business with hundreds of employees.  He’s at a season in life where he can step away from his business and serve Texas.  I like that he started at the grass roots level as a precinct chair, then served as GOP County Chair before being asked to run for Texas Senate. He’ll be a strong conservative partner with me in Austin.

Please join Governor Abbott, Lt. Governor Patrick, Sen. Drew Springer and me in supporting Craig Goldman for Congress and Brent Hagenbuch for Texas Senate.

Election Day Locations:
Brown
Johnson 
Palo Pinto
Parker
Tarrant
 

Early Voting Ends Friday: Vote Craig Goldman, Brent Hagenbuch

May 22, 2024

Early voting ends Friday in the runoff elections, and Election Day is Tuesday, May 28.  There is no weekend voting during this runoff period.  You’ll find links for Early Voting and Election Day locations for counties in SD 10 that have local runoffs at the bottom of this email. I have made endorsements in two key races:

Craig Goldman for Congress

In Congressional District 12, I am strongly endorsing Craig Goldman, a businessman and former staff member for Senator Phil Gramm. For over a decade, we’ve worked together to advance conservative principles.  I know Craig to be a strong pro-life advocate, committed to border security, and a passionate defender of Israel. Terry and I have traveled to Israel with Craig when Lockheed delivered the first F-35.  Most recently, in light of the brutal attacks by Hamas, we collaborated on a joint House/Senate resolution making clear that Texas stands with Israel, a resolution now considered the national model for states. Terry and I have known Craig Goldman for many years, and we are proud to endorse our longtime friend.  (As an aside, please ignore the lies on those red signs being posted illegally in right of way areas. Craig has always voted to ban gender modification surgeries on minors.)

Brent Hagenbuch for SD 30

In Senate District 30, Brent Hagenbuch has earned my endorsement. Brent is a Naval Academy graduate who served over a decade on active duty.  He’s a Texas entrepreneur who created a successful business from the ground up and now runs a national trucking business with hundreds of employees.  He’s at a season in life where he can step away from his business and serve Texas.  I like that he started at the grass roots level as a precinct chair, then served as GOP County Chair before being asked to run for Texas Senate. He’ll be a strong conservative partner with me in Austin.

Please join Governor Abbott, Lt. Governor Patrick, Sen. Drew Springer and me in supporting Craig Goldman for Congress and Brent Hagenbuch for Texas Senate.

Early Voting Locations:
Brown
Johnson
Palo Pinto
Parker
Tarrant

Election Day Locations:
Brown
Johnson 
Palo Pinto
Parker
Tarrant

Setting the Record Straight

May 1, 2024

I have ten grandchildren in public schools in Texas Senate District 10.  All are doing very well.  Two have Down Syndrome and I couldn’t be more grateful for the love and support they receive from the staff and other students. 
 
In 2023, the Texas Legislature demonstrated an unprecedented commitment to support our 5.4 million public school students.  However, leading up to the March primary election we heard repeated claims about state government’s funding of education that are simply not true.
 
Education is our state’s largest funding priority. In fact, state spending on public education increased by roughly 22% from the last budget to our current budget.  For the current biennium, Texas is spending $41.6 billion on public education, which represents 28% of General Revenue spending. When you include state spending on higher education, that percentage jumps to 46%. This only represents state General Revenue spending on education and does not consider other sources of revenue.
 
The data is indisputable. According to the most recent Texas Education Agency annual report (linked here), per student annual funding is up 42% since 2011.  During the 2021-2022 school year the average per student allocation was $14,928. This equates to $373,200 for a class of 25 students. 
 
You may have read (repeatedly) that school districts this year have been hard hit by inflation.  Of this there is no doubt. However, inflation has also impacted every family and every business in Texas.  I wish the Texas Legislature could end inflation, but it’s not caused by our state.  Our Texas economy is among the strongest in the nation.  Inflation rests squarely on the inexplicable polices of the Biden Administration – policies such as hyper deficit spending, a war against abundant fossil fuels and a treacherous open border allowing millions to flood in annually.
 
One of the best ways to help our schools is to financially support our teachers. Just last fall, the Texas Senate proposed and voted on legislation that allocated over $7 billion in additional funding for public education. That included approximately $4 billion for teacher raises.  However, the legislation died in the House simply due to an overreaction to the issue of private school choice—an option available to families in 32 other states. 
 
Opponents to private school choice forfeited $7 billion for education simply because $500 million, less than 8%, would have gone to a school choice program.  The remaining $6.5 billion would have increased funding for the basic funding allotment, provided bonuses to teachers, funded additional school security, increased the Teacher Incentive Allotment, and increased appropriations for special needs children.
 
Regardless of the misleading campaigns, you can rest assured that the Texas Legislature will continue its commitment to finance public education.  The success of our state depends upon a first class education system.  As we move past rhetoric and into the facts, I believe Texas should and will provide additional funding for schools and additional choices for parents and students.  Education should never be one size fits all and it must be among Texas’ top funding priorities.

Anti-Israel Protests at UT, Border Update, and Other News of Interest

April 26, 2024

Governor Abbott and UT President Take Strong Stand Against Anti-Israel Demonstrators

I have been a strong and vocal advocate in support of Israel, and in underscoring how important it is for Texas to always stand with our most important ally in the Middle East.

On Wednesday at the University of Texas in Austin, over 200 students walked out of class in protest against Israel. As turmoil and chaos ensued, police offers in riot gear quickly intervened, leading to at least 55 arrests, 28 students, 1 faculty, and 26 protestors who were not students. (I’ll call those the outside agitators).

UT President Jay Hartzell said, “The protestors tried to deliver on their stated intent to occupy campus. People not affiliated with UT joined them, and many ignored University officials’ continual pleas for restraint and to immediately disperse. The University did what we said we would do in the face of prohibited actions.”

Governor Abbott swiftly deployed more than 100 troopers from the Texas Department of Public Safety. The Governor stated, “Students joining in hate-filled, antisemitic protests at any public college or university in Texas should be expelled.” I applaud the Governor’s swift and decisive actions in dealing with these protestors, some of whom even threw feces at law enforcement officers.              

Hosting Legislators from Around the U.S. at the Texas Border

I recently led a security tour of the border for senior lawmakers from Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Tennessee, Utah, and Virginia.  With the influx of fentanyl and other illegal drugs, human trafficking and weapons flowing over the border, every state is now a border state. These colleagues witnessed firsthand the border crisis and the disastrous effect of the Biden Administration’s policies. 

For the week of April 3-9 alone, more than 12,000 apprehensions of illegals were made at the Texas border. More than 175 pounds of cocaine was seized, along with almost 700 pounds of marijuana, over 750 pounds of methamphetamine, and other illicit drug and weapon seizures.

On a helicopter tour of the border region, I had the opportunity to inspect the latest enforcement efforts by our state.   


Honoring our Jewish Friends During Passover

Passover began on Monday and runs through April 30th. Our Jewish friends have been celebrating Passover for more than 3,300 years – the longest national celebration in history. As the Passover holiday is observed commemorating the release of the Jews from Egypt, we are saddened that more than 100 people are still being held hostage by the Hamas, a murderous terrorist organization. That means 100 families will have a missing chair at their Passover feast table. We remain prayerful that these hostages may be returned to their families, and that peace will reign in this region.

Municipal Elections are Underway

Don’t forget to get out and vote to make your voice heard in your local elections for mayor and city council. Turnout for city elections is often less than 10% of registered voters. These are important elections directly affecting the operation of your city and town. Election Day is Saturday, May 4th, with early voting underway this week. 


Texas Jumps Seven Spots in ALEC Economic Competitiveness Study

Last week, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) published its 17th edition of “Rich States, Poor States: ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index.” I’m pleased to report that Texas has risen to sixth place for economic outlook in this study, up from 13th place in 2023. The rise is due in large part to our record-breaking property tax cuts passed by the Texas Legislature last fall. The great work in “Rich States, Poor States” is clear evidence that Texas’ pursuit of the ALEC principles of free markets and limited government is working. This is our great state’s highest ranking ever in this study.

It was a great day at the ballpark for the Texas Rangers Opening Day with Governor Abbott.  I’m shown here with my son Josh and my daughter-in-law Sarah.

Teachers Can Earn Up to $32,000 More a Year!

April 5, 2024

Created by the Texas Legislature in 2019 as part of House Bill 3, the Teacher Incentive Allotment (TIA) provides independent school districts (ISDs) and charter schools with the exciting opportunity to award qualifying teachers with significant salary increases.

The TIA is a program administered through the Texas Education Agency (TEA) that is designed to recognize and reward effective teaching and incentivize outstanding teachers to stay in the classroom.  This link (www.tiatexas.org) contains a wealth of information for school districts and charters interested in participating in this voluntary program. 

There are several factors that determine the allotment, but it can range from an additional $3,000 to $32,000 annually that high-performing teachers can earn for their districts. Additionally, the program is designed to give  districts discretion in the metrics used and how they design the program so that it can fit the specific needs of their district.

Enjoying steady growth since its inception, as of 2023 the TIA now has 13,774 qualifying teachers in 346 school districts being awarded a total of over $145 million through this program as of 2023.  Over the next year, growth is projected to be at $260 million in additional funding for qualifying teachers in participating districts and charters. 

Taking a closer look at school districts in Senate District 10, where I represent parts of 65 school districts and charters, 35% of traditional ISDs and 70% of charters are participating in the TIA program. 

This initiative has been successful at directing funds to high-performing teachers, and I hope more school districts will consider taking advantage of this great opportunity.  

If you are interested in seeing if your district is participating in this program, see the link HERE.

This was a critical investment that the legislature has made and will continue to make in order to appropriately reward our teachers. Just like in your own personal business, you want to compensate those employees who are effective and doing a great job. The TIA represents a free market approach applied to government. 

Did you know if the Texas public school system was a private corporation, it would be third largest in the nation? Applying this type of common sense incentive program to our public education system helps with recruitment, retention and most importantly thanking our public servants for one of the most important professions: educating our future leaders. 

Election Day is upon us! If you haven’t voted already, tomorrow is the day to get out and vote! Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

March 4, 2024

In the race to select a replacement for retiring Congresswoman Kay Granger in CD 12, Terry and I recommend our longtime friend Craig Goldman.

In CD 25, we recommend Congressman Roger Williams.

In the HD 60 for State Representative, we recommend a vote for Mike Olcott.

**Where Do I Vote?** 

Below is a link to each county’s Election Day Locations across Senate District 10:

Brown County

Callahan County

Palo Pinto County

Parker County

Tarrant County

Johnson County

Shackelford County

Stephens County

**When Can I Vote?**
 

Polls are open Tuesday, March 5th, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m..  As long as you’re in line before 7 p.m, you’ll get to vote. 

**Republican Party of Texas Propositions:**

In addition to voting for candidates, you will also have the opportunity to voice your opinion on various propositions put forth by the Republican Party of Texas. These propositions cover important issues, and you can review them in detail by visiting the following link: Republican Party of Texas Propositions. These propositions are advisory in nature and do not create law.
 
**Encourage Your Network:**

Please share this information with your friends and family, urging them to join you in making their voices heard at the polls. Your vote has never been more important.  
 
Thank you for your commitment to civic engagement. If you have any questions or need further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact my office at [email protected].

Important Primary Election Information

February 17, 2024

As we approach the upcoming primary election, I want to ensure that you are well-informed and ready to exercise your fundamental right to vote. Your participation is crucial in shaping the future of our community, state, and nation.**Early Voting Information:**

Early voting for the primary election is an excellent opportunity to cast your ballot at your convenience. Early voting begins on Tuesday, February 20th and runs through Friday, March 1st. You can find early voting locations in our area by visiting the following links:

Brown County Early Voting Locations
Callahan County Early Voting Locations
Johnson County Early Voting Locations
Palo Pinto County Early Voting Locations
Parker County Early Voting Locations
Stephens County Early Voting Locations
Tarrant County Early Voting Locations

**Election Day Voting Information:**

If you prefer to vote on Election Day, it is scheduled for Tuesday, March 5th. Please make sure to check your assigned polling location, and you can find the information you need at the following links:

Brown County Election Day Polling Locations
Callahan County Election Day Polling Locations
Johnson County Election Day Polling Locations
Palo Pinto County Election Day Polling Locations
Parker County Election Day Polling Locations
Stephens County Election Day Polling Locations
Tarrant County Election Day Polling Locations

**Republican Party of Texas Propositions:**

In addition to voting for candidates, you will also have the opportunity to voice your opinion on various propositions put forth by the Republican Party of Texas. These propositions cover important issues, and you can review them in detail by visiting the following link: Republican Party of Texas Propositions. These propositions are advisory in nature and do not create law.

**Encourage Your Network:**

Please share this information with your friends and family, urging them to join you in making their voices heard at the polls. If possible, please do not wait until the last day to vote.  There are just too many things that can happen to keep you away.  Your vote has never been more important.  

Thank you for your commitment to civic engagement. If you have any questions or need further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact my office at [email protected].

It worked! Why your electricity stayed on during this cold weather.

January 19, 2024

We were very concerned. This week’s cold weather event was one of the most severe of the last 15 years. Arguably the second most severe. We all remember days of outages and resulting tragedies caused by Winter Storm Uri in 2021. That can never be allowed to happen again.

Post Uri, the Texas Legislature mandated a long and complex list of market and operational changes. We’ve also reorganized both the Public Utility Commission and ERCOT which operates Texas’ electric grid. Many of these legislative mandates are in effect while others are still in the implementation process. 

Although there is more work to be done, I am encouraged by the performance of our grid during this recent weather event. This week was a big test. Here are some of my key takeaways. 

Takeaway #1 – Record Demand, Ample Reserve and No Emergency Conditions 

This past week we broke winter power demand records but never entered emergency condition status. Emergency conditions are triggered when electricity reserves drop below 2,500 megawatts (MW). During this cold wave we maintained at least 5,000 MW in reserve and had other contingencies available if needed. 

Takeaway #2 –Thermal Fleet Had Very Good Performance; Weatherization Working 

Much of Winter Storm Uri’s outages were caused by frozen equipment across the power grid. In 2021, the legislature implemented comprehensive weatherization standards and mandated inspections to ensure compliance. Although these were expensive and complex, we know the effort is having a positive impact. Thermal forced outages caused by the weather amounted to no more than 3,000 MW. That is less than half of the forced outage totals for the thermal electric generation fleet (natural gas, nuclear and coal) during the 2022 winter storm.

Takeaway #3 – Critical Load Maps, Firm Fuel, Gas Storage and Increased Communications 

In 2021, the legislature created the Texas Electricity Supply Chain Security and Mapping Committee. This entity was charged with mapping the electricity supply chain in Texas and identifying the critical infrastructure sources to ensure power is not lost. Additionally, we formalized in statute the Texas Energy Reliability Council (TERC) to enhance coordination and communication in the energy and electric industries. 

In discussions with the industry, we learned that these changes were paramount for grid preparedness and reliability during last summer’s and this winter’s extreme weather events. The collaboration from the electric and energy industry allows providers to troubleshoot quickly before a severe problem occurs or to expedite a timely resolution. 

The legislature also implemented incentives for generators to have firm fuel (a commitment to deliver fuel under any conditions) and onsite fuel storage. This is important because during gas curtailments, you want to have on site fuel storage as a backup. This has been working very well and thermal plants are staying operational. 

Takeaway #4 – A Pleasant Addition to the Grid: Batteries 

During Winter Storm Uri in 2021, battery storage was well before its prime. Since then, battery storage has become increasingly interconnected to the grid, and much more is projected to be available. Batteries performed in this winter storm exactly how we had hoped. They discharged power on the grid during peak demand and recharged during non-peak hours. I am excited to see what the future holds for battery storage. 

Takeaway #5 – Wind and Solar Remain Variable and Unpredictable 

Although it is a large segment of our electricity supply in Texas, solar and wind generation continues to be unreliable. We have made significant efforts to encourage more dispatchable generation, but it takes time to build power plants. Also, the federal government’s large subsidies for wind and solar projects discourages construction of the reliable, dispatchable natural gas fired plants of which we are in need. 

Takeaway #6 – ERCOT’s Power Demand Forecast Overly Conservative 

Part of ERCOT’s job is to forecast power demand so that adequate power is available hour by hour, day by day. It will take some time to explore why this happened, but ERCOT’s forecasts were much higher than real time demand during this winter event. We always want to err on the side of caution and be over prepared rather than under prepared, but we need to explore how to improve our winter forecasting. It has the potential for unintended consequences like unnecessarily driving up costs for consumers. 

Takeaway #7 – Dispatchable (Ready-to Go) Generation is Necessary for Texas’ Future 

During the November 2023 election, voters approved Prop 7 to help incentivize more dispatchable and reliable generation. The Texas Energy Fund will provide loans and grants for new dispatchable generation and help existing dispatchable generators make necessary improvements. This investment for our future is just one way that the legislature has encouraged a path forward to bring the right type of power generation to Texas. 

I hope this information is helpful and encouraging. This cold wave was a good test of the changes implemented across our electric grid over the last three years. The role of the PUC and ERCOT in implementing legislative mandates, and the cooperation and work of the electricity industry, deserve much recognition.

As always, I am available for any questions you may have or your feedback.

Special Thanks: If you know any linemen for the transmission and distribution utilities, tell them thank you! These men and women are first responders during a storm, and I know they worked many long hours, in very frigid conditions, to quickly resolve any local outages.