Proposed legislation could provide funding to prevent power grid failure

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FILE – This Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021 file photo shows power lines in Houston. On Friday, Feb. 19, 2021, The Associated Press reported on stories circulating online incorrectly asserting wind turbines freezing over in the cold weather were primarily responsible for Texans losing heat and electricity this week. Failures in natural gas, coal and nuclear energy systems were responsible for nearly twice as many outages as frozen wind turbines and solar panels combined, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which operates the state’s power grid, said in a press conference Tuesday. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO) – Proposed legislation will provide funding to strengthen the electric grid infrastructure against extreme weather.  

U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) and U.S. Representatives Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30), Kevin Brady (TX-08), and Michael Burgess (TX-26) introduced the Power On Act to assist electricity providers and suppliers with federal funding to prevent infrastructure failures, like the one experienced in February.  

February’s winter storm left 111 people dead after a power system failure managed by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) left 70% of customers without power for an average of 42 hours according to a study done by the University of Houston. 

 Several ERCOT board members resigned, and its CEO was fired in the aftermath of the storm. 

“Whether we face subzero temperatures, gale force winds, or any other type of extreme weather, Texas’s electric grid must be able to withstand the impact,” said Sen. Cornyn.  “This bipartisan legislation is an outstanding start to ensure the life-threatening outages Texans endured this February won’t happen again.” 

The bill authorizes $100 million in grants annually for the fiscal years 2022 through 2026.  

Grants may be used for activities, technologies, equipment, and hardening measures to enable the electric grid to better withstand the effects of extreme weather, wildfires, or any other natural disaster. 

Grants will not be provided for new construction but rather to strengthen existing infrastructure, technologies, and equipment. 

Grants may be used for developing technologies to withstand and address the current and projected impact on electric grid infrastructure of extreme weather, wildfires, or any other natural disaster. 

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