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Wolff to Abbott: Texas needs to go back to the old ways of producing, distributing power

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff-COVID-19 briefing, April 19,2020. Photo: City of San Antonio/Facebook

BEXAR COUNTY (KTSA News) — Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff sent a letter to Texas Governor Greg Abbott stating the state power system needs to go back to the way it was before the start of the millennium.

Wolff wrote that Senate Bill 7 in 1999 that deregulated public utilities put “ourselves in a situation that puts profits first for utilities and reliability second.”

The county judge stated deregulation has led to “just in time power” purchases from wholesalers instead of purchasers buying and storing back-up generation power.

“Energy producers are selling energy out of the state at a time when we needed power,” Wolff wrote.

He noted that both CPS Energy and ERCOT share blame for the failure of the power system.  Wolff said he expects the City of San Antonio to investigate CPS Energy and the state legislature to investigate ERCOT.

Wolff said CPS Energy officials told the San Antonio City Council Wednesday they would have had enough energy to power San Antonio if the utility did not have to try to help ERCOT balance the statewide grid.

The San Antonio power utility setup is different that what is seen in places like Dallas-Fort Worth.  CPS Energy is more similar to a traditional power company seen elsewhere in the country where it is the sole provider and producer of energy for its service area.  In Dallas-Fort Worth, private companies sell power to customers, purchasing it from wholesale producers.

Wolff blames the latter’s setup for the statewide failure in power.  In his letter to the governor, he wants the governor to go back to a regulated integrated power system the state was using before 1999.  If that cannot be done, he said a fundamental change to ERCOT would be the second-best option.


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