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TEXAS AGRICULTURE COMMISSIONER SID MILLER LAYS OUT PLAN TO AVOID FUTURE POWER SYSTEM FAILURE (3/5/2021)

For Immediate Release:
March 5, 2021

 

TEXAS AGRICULTURE COMMISSIONER SID MILLER LAYS OUT PLAN TO AVOID FUTURE POWER SYSTEM FAILURE

 

Says electrical grid failure’s damage to agriculture industry warrants immediate action 

 

(AUSTIN)  Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller introduced a multi-step solution to the recent power system failure that caused millions of dollars of damage to the Texas agriculture industry.  His Proper Oversight, Winterization and Electricity Reform (P.O.W.E.R.) Plan is a set of proposed reforms of the state electricity grid and the institutions responsible for its reliable and efficient operation. 

 

The winter storms and the system failure of the grid had a profound impact on our farmers, ranchers, and agricultural workers,” said Miller.  “Just as importantly, it has led to disruptions in our food supply, our water supply, and the prices that every Texan pays for some of life's most important resources. In Texas we are blessed with some of the most abundant natural resources in the world, and we need to be able to tap those resources in a time of need.

 

Winter Storm Uri caused billions of dollars worth of damage to Texas agriculture, much of it because of electricity and natural gas system failures. Without electricity water pumps could not operate, causing millions of dollars of damages to water pipes and systems. Without electricity, food processing plants went dark and were not able to operate.  Agriculture feed manufacturers were also shutdown, leaving ag producers scrambling to feed freezing livestock.  Without electricity and gas, milk plants could not pasteurize product, so up to 14 million dollars of milk had to be dumped. Without electricity and heat at poultry farms, newly-hatched baby chicks froze and died.

 

As the head of the Texas Department of Agriculture and a statewide elected leader, it is my duty to put forward solutions,” said Miller. “I encourage our legislative leaders to endorse this plan and use the current legislative session to fix this problem so no Texan ever again has to face a crisis like we saw with this storm.”

 

Commissioner Miller was one of the first statewide elected officials to raise an alarm about the anticipated disaster when he issued a “red alert” about threats to the food supply chain on February 16th.

 

“Unbeknownst to most Texans, Texas came within 4 minutes and 37 seconds of a complete collapse of the power system on February 15th,” said Miller. “We must never allow this to happen again. I hope these recommendations will move the conversation towards solutions for the benefit of our farmers, ranchers, small business owners and all Texans.”

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Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller's

Proper Oversight, Winterization, and Electricity Reform Plan
(The Texas P.O.W.E.R. Plan)

  • Members of ERCOT, PUC, and other regulatory entities must reside in and be legal residents of the State of Texas.
  • Mandatory winterization of coal, nuclear, gas, solar, hydro, and wind generation systems.
  • Remove liability shields that prevent accountability in the power system.
  • Significantly increased storage capacity.
  • Shield Texas consumers from sudden price spikes cause by natural disasters, systemic failures, EMPs, and cyber-attacks.
  • Significantly increase accountability and oversight to empower regulators to impose compliance and sanction non-compliance on power generators and retail providers.
  • Enhanced cyber-security measures to protect grid integrity.
  • Create a severe event early warning system to text important weather updates directly to Texas residents in a timely manner.
  • Review, modernize, and harden essential infrastructure to prevent weather, cyber, and EMP disruptions.
  • Expand and diversify Texas power to include more nuclear and hydro production.
  • Limit “maintenance downtime” for power producers to no more than 3% of the state’s total capacity and schedule downtime across the calendar year instead of stacking maintenance in late winter.
  • Incentivize back-up, localized power generation systems at essential facilities such as water treatment plants and hospitals.
  • Mandate a statewide contingency plan to be implemented when our unreliable sources go offline.
  • Create a memorandum of understanding with the military and National Guard to deploy their mobile generators to critical areas of the state.

For further questions or to schedule virtual or in-person Commissioner interviews, please contact Mark Dallas Loeffler via email or phone at 512.475.1669.