Texas Senate Passes Bill To Protect Electricity Customers

The Texas Senate introduced and passed a bill in one day that would reverse billions of dollars in overcharges by the state's electric grid operator, ERCOT.

Video Transcript

- The Texas Senate working at a frantic pace now to correct a multibillion-dollar issue that has come up since last month's winter storm. Political reporter Jack Fink taking a look for us now at the bill and what it means for consumers.

DAN PATRICK: I'm so proud of the Senate. Every member who stepped up in a bipartisan effort to have their voice heard on behalf of the people of Texas.

JACK FINK: Lieutenant governor Dan Patrick declaring a legislative victory. In the same day, a Senator introduced a bill, had it passed in a committee, and then by the full Senate by a 27 to 3 margin, designed to protect customers and taxpayers. The legislation requires the Public Utility Commission, which oversees the electric grid operator ERCOT, to reverse billions of dollars in overcharges for electricity in the wholesale market during last month's widespread power outages.

An independent firm hired by the state to keep an eye on the electricity market accused ERCOT of charging the maximum rate for too long of a time period. Both Republicans and Democrats agreed: ERCOT's overcharges needed to be corrected.

ANGELA PAXTON: It's a lot, and it's incorrect. And so as those who represent the people of Texas who are on the hook for this, at the end of the day, it's really important that we do this and we do it now.

JOSE MENENDEZ: We're telling them go fix the error. You figure it out, you made this error, fix it.

JIM NIEWALD: I really think that this would be the best outcome.

JACK FINK: Jim Niewald is a former consultant to the electric power and gas industry, and he says the Senate did the right thing because ERCOT's overcharges were a mistake.

JIM NIEWALD: Created problems or situations that never should have occurred. And for us not to go back and fix them really would create a-- as I said, a crisis of confidence in our market.

JACK FINK: The lieutenant governor said now that the Senate has acted, he is hoping the House will follow suit and pass the legislation and that the governor will sign it. Jack Fink, CBS 11 News.

- The bill now goes over to the House for debate and a vote.