Call for Harris County to leave state’s power grid. Is that possible?

HOUSTON – Commissioner Adrian Garcia said Harris County should explore what authority it has to leave the Energy Reliability Council of Texas and will propose Friday in commissioner’s court.

Garcia said he will request “an opinion from the County Attorney on what powers Court or other county elected official to possess under the Texas Constitution and Texas statutes to remove the county from ERCOT’s service area,” among other things.

The ERCOT map, which includes most of Texas, except El Paso, parts of the Panhandle and more than a dozen counties on the eastern edge of the state, has looked about the same for many decades.

In the Houston area, Harris, Fort Bend, Galveston, Brazoria and Montgomery counties, are inside the ERCOT map, while Jefferson and Liberty counties belong to another grid overseen by the Federal Energy Reliability Council.

It’s been that way for at least half of a century, said Ed Emmett, who formally served as Harris County Judge for more than a decade.

“Can you imagine if 254 counties across the state of Texas all started weighing in on whether they wanted to be in ERCOT or some other system?” Emmett said. “That’s really not their job.”

Emmett’s home in the Houston area, on the ERCOT grid, lost power during last week’s winter storm. His cabin in Liberty County, on the MISO grid, did not lose power.

“I think there are legitimate questions to ask about why some service areas maintained electricity and others did not,” Emmett said. “I find it very difficult to see a role for county commissioners here.”

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