Long an advocate for electric grid security, Texas State Sen. Bob Hall (R-Edgewood), sees new urgency for his legislation in the wake of widespread power failure caused by February’s winter storm.
“Plain and simple – when it comes to electric grid security, state government has failed the people of Texas,” Hall stated in a recent press release.
Hall has spoken at length about the vulnerabilities of the Texas electric grid since before he was elected a senator in 2014, and has filed legislation on the topic every session since then. For some time he was one of the few voices even talking about the topic of grid security, which had often been derided as the territory of conspiracy theories and an issue not to be taken seriously.
“Now that even the greatest skeptics see how vulnerable we really are, I want to assure the people of Texas that I am more committed than ever to ensuring our grid security and resilient community legislation passes this session,” says Hall.
Hall’s Senate Bill 76, which which he filed during the last state legislative session in 2019, called for the creation of a “grid security council” that would “monitor economic, environmental, regulatory, and technological developments that may affect the security of the electric grid.”
According to the text of the bill, the council would “evaluate security vulnerabilities of the electric grid and strategies for securing the grid” against a number of threats, including “weather threats.”
While everyone in Austin is talking about power grid reform now, the legislature has not passed substantive legislation on the issue in years. SB 76 passed the Senate, yet it failed to even get a vote in the House.
The reason? Hall blames special interest groups, which he says, “misled legislators into believing that both the natural and manmade threats to the electric grid are not real and that our infrastructure is in exceptionally good condition.” He added, “We now know that is not true.”
However, with the epic failure of the Texas grid during the recent winter storm, people who lost power are angry, and elected officials are scrambling to be perceived as doing something about the issue. House Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) has called a committee meeting to review what went wrong with the grid, and Governor Greg Abbott has made electric grid reform an emergency legislative item.
Hall thinks there is significant momentum now building to finally get some grid protection legislation signed into law, and says he will double down on the effort to pass grid resilience and security legislation.
“I am happy to report that we are receiving significant support from my senate colleagues, who now recognize the seriousness of this issue,” remarked Hall.
“It is now our solemn duty as legislators to pass meaningful legislation to protect the Texas electric grid and begin developing resilient communities to ensure that Texans never again suffer a disaster like we are now experiencing.”