SB 258 Gets A Hearing, Oncor Steps Out of the Shadows to Oppose Energy Efficiency Increase

Texas Capitol Extension Offices - Al Braden Photography

Photo: Texas Capitol extension offices, by Al Braden.

After several bills that would raise costs on Texas families struggling to pay their utility bills (most notably SB 6 that could cost as much as $18 billion to build new gas plants), the Senate Business & Commerce Committee held a hearing today on SB 258, a bill that would raise the energy efficiency goals of the state for the first time since 2011.

(More on SB 6 and the package of bad bills that already passed the Senate).

Consumer organizations, business associations, and regular electric bill payers all spoke in strong favor of requiring our investor-owned utilities to increase their energy efficiency programs and goals. Sierra Club's testimony included a letter, signed by more than 40 organizations, in support of stronger energy efficiency policies and goals (see the letter here).

The goals in the original version of the bill would be:

  • 0.25% of annual energy savings in 2024;
  • 0.5% of annual energy savings in 2025;
  • 0.75% of annual energy savings in 2026;
  • 1.0% of annual energy savings beginning in 2027.

Keep in mind, these are fractions of one percent of a utility's annual sales going to help their customers weatherize their homes and businesses.

However, in the spirit of compromise with the utilities that would be responsible for meeting these goals, Sen. Eckhardt introduced a committee substitute  that would reduce the increase in goals over time, while still achieving a 150% increase from current goals by 2027. 

Nevertheless, one entity testified in opposition to this widely popular bill. Despite already meeting most of the goals set out in the proposed compromise committee substitute of SB 258, Oncor (service territory map) spoke against the bill, saying it would be very difficult for them to meet the proposed goals. 

Conservation Director Cyrus Reed had this to say immediately after the hearing: “The committee substitute is a compromise to address utility’s concerns and significantly reduces the proposed goals, so it was a shock to hear Oncor essentially be against any rise in the goals, even though they admitted they are already achieving the proposed peak reduction goal in 2027 in the committee substitute. Oncor should worry less about the increased goals cutting into their performance bonus, and more about serving their customers with cost-effective demand response and energy efficiency programs.”

SB 258 needs to remain strong. Texas families need solutions that reduce the burden of high energy bills, pollution, and grid instability. Energy efficiency checks all of those boxes and brings more local jobs to Texas! Contact your legislators today!