Proposed Texas legislation would create new energy council

Texas Sen. David Sibley (R-Waco) filed a bill in the legislature Monday that would create a Texas Energy Policy Council charged with formulating a state energy policy. Senate Bill 1825 would create a nine member panel that would meet at least once quarterly to develop a statewide policy for the legislature to consider by Dec. 1, 2002, and help the state avoid future problems.

Apr 23rd, 2001


By the OGJ Online Staff

HOUSTON, Apr. 23 -- Texas Sen. David Sibley (R-Waco) filed a bill in the legislature Monday that would create a Texas Energy Policy Council charged with formulating a state energy policy.

Senate Bill 1825 would create a nine member panel that would meet at least once quarterly to develop a statewide policy for the legislature to consider by Dec. 1, 2002.

"It is important for Texas to develop an energy policy so we can avoid the spiraling fuel costs and energy shortages now plaguing other states such as California," Sibley said in a statement. "We must make sure our energy remains reliable, plentiful, and affordable. In addition, a statewide energy policy must protect the public's health and safety by including environmental safeguards."

Texas is on the eve of a statewide competition pilot program that starts June 1. Full competition begins Jan. 1, 2002.

"We want to make sure that we don't get caught like other states," said Kirsten Voinis, an aide to Sen. Sibley. "The council will also be doing some oversight."

Most observers believe in the short term Texas will escape the most flagrant problem that has dogged California � a shortage of generation. But other problems such as the exercise of market power by large utilities and their affiliates or a few large marketers could emerge to adversely impact prices in the newly opened market.

If it becomes law, the council will make recommendations to the state and industry regarding energy use; encourage a portfolio of clean and reasonably priced energy sources, develop policies to ensure against interrupted supplies and infrastructure failure; and recommend ways to increase public awareness for conservation.

Priority will be given to energy efficient technologies in the plan because they reduce demand for energy. The council will also recommend strategies to reduce transmission and transportation constraints for oil, natural gas, coal, and electricity.

Members of the council would include the chairman of the Public Utility Commission, the Railroad Commission, and the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission; two state senators appointed by the lieutenant governor; two state representatives appointed by the speaker of the Texas House; a member of the academic community with expertise in energy appointed by the governor; and the executive director of the State Energy Conservation Office.

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