Texas Leaders Continue Debate Over Bill That Would Reverse Billions In Overcharges By ERCOT

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has led the state Senate to quickly pass a bill that would order the Public Utility Commission to reverse billion in overcharge by ERCOT. However, Speaker Dade Phelan opposes that bill.

Video Transcript

- Governor Abbott isn't saying whether he supports a new bill passed by the state Senate this week that would reverse billions of in overcharges by ERCOT during last month's power outages. The governor also wouldn't explain why he asked the chair of the Public Utility Commission to step down two weeks after he promoted him to the position. Political reporter Jack Fink is on the case for us.

- Taking a step.

JACK FINK: At the Texas capitol, a political fight is brewing between Republican leaders. Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick led the state Senate to quickly pass a bill Monday that would order the Public Utility Commission to reverse billions of dollars in overcharges by ERCOT for electricity on the wholesale market during last month's power outages. But House Speaker Dade Phelan opposes the bill, calling it an extraordinary government intervention into the free market.

In Dallas today, I asked Governor Abbott specifically if he supports the Senate bill or Phelan's position.

GREG ABBOTT: I've already made multiple comments about that, and I'll just leave those comments. You can pull them up.

JACK FINK: Last week, the chair of the public utility commission, Arthur D'Andrea said he didn't have the authority to order ERCOT to reverse its pricing. Yesterday, "Texas Monthly" magazine released audio of a conversation D'Andrea had with Wall Street investors on a private call last week. The investors wanted assurances the state would not reverse or reprice ERCOT's overcharges.

ARTHUR D'ANDREA: I took that first step to tip the scale as hard as I could in favor of it being resolved and that being the status quo and [? can't ?] last past next week. So that's the good news. I wish I could tell you there's just no way in heck it'll ever get repriced. I just can't because there are-- you know, if enough legislators want something done, then they can pass a bill and get it done.

JACK FINK: Hours after the audio came out, the governor announced he asked D'Andrea to resign, and he wouldn't explain why today.

GREG ABBOTT: We are charting a new and fresh course for the Public Utilities Commission, and the action that I made is one of many steps that would be taken to achieve those goals.

JACK FINK: The state has only until the end of this week to reverse ERCOT's overcharges. After that, it is final. The state Senate has already passed a bill to do so, but it has not been referred to any committee in the House for consideration. Jack Fink, CBS11 News.