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HARRIS CO. TO EXPLORE LEAVING TEXAS POWER GRID

Harris County, TX — TODAY, Harris County Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia presented an agenda item for the Friday, February 26th Commissioners Court, that states he is asking the Court to explore ‘what steps in regards to state statute and electricity infrastructure would need to be taken to remove Harris County from the service area of independent system operators that are primarily governed by the Public Utility Commission of Texas, such as the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT).’

The neighboring county of Liberty is currently one of several in East Texas that are in the service area of the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), an independent system operator and regional transmission organization. MISO’s regulation and oversight falls under the jurisdiction of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and is in the Eastern Interconnect grid. This agenda item would ask the County Attorney’s Office what powers the Court or other county elected officials possess to place Harris County in the service area of an electric grid not primarily governed by State agencies including the Public Utility Commission of Texas.

Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia issued the following statement:

“In 2011, state officials promised to get to the bottom of why widespread power outages resulted from a hard freeze. No significant actions were taken. In 2013, much of Texas was introduced to then-Attorney General Greg Abbott, who was the first state officeholder to respond to the explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, TX. No significant changes came from state action to further prevent a similar disaster from happening. In fact, as recently as January of 2020, in response to several plant explosions happening in a short period of time locally, Governor Abbott tweeted that ‘Texas will work with Houston and Harris County on strategies to reduce—and hopefully eliminate—them’. That also never happened. I can’t speak for the other members of court, but I am concerned with the State’s leadership inability to keep promises they have made to their constituents during disasters. This agenda item is meant to explore how we in Harris County can take ownership of keeping residents safe, something the state has clearly shown it can’t be trusted to do itself.”