Public Utility Commission Still Won’t Reverse Power Charges. The independent oversight monitor that audits whether price spikes for power were warranted under the state’s scarcity pricing system found that the Public Utility Commission kept prices too high for too long. The state allows the PUC to approve jumping costs for electricity to a cap of $9,000 per megawatt hour to spur generators to bring more power online at times of great demand. But the monitor found it kept that cap for too long, resulting in $16 billion in overcharges. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick wants those charges rescinded, but the PUC is worried it would bankrupt the generators who produced and sold power at those highs. All of this seems to be Band-Aids for the bigger problem: this is how the system was built to work. Someone is getting screwed, whether it’s the retailers that had to buy at such high prices, or, if the PUC walks back those extreme charges, it’s the generators that took the state up on its offer to charge more for power. Legislators seem worried about the consumers, who remain at risk if the energy companies try to recoup their losses.
Another COVID Variant Reaches North Texas. This one is the B.1.526 variant, which is more prominent in New York City. The man who carried it had not traveled outside Dallas County, meaning it’s likely spreading among the community. In New York, it accounts for about one of every four new infections. Researchers believe the variant allows for the virus to get past the immune system more easily and those infected were more likely to be hospitalized. There were 229 new cases yesterday, but 35 deaths. Two of those were young women, one in her 20s and another in her 30s.
State Vaccine Total Falls This Week. The state of Texas last week received over 1 million vaccine doses from the federal government. Next week, it will be about 800,000. FEMA will no longer be providing first doses, and the state has used all of its single-shot Johnson & Johnson allocations.
Thunderstorms Expected This Weekend. Today, chances for precipitation are a slim 20 percent. But Saturday into Sunday night that jumps to 70 percent. The storms are more likely to be severe west of Dallas-Fort Worth, but they’ll weaken as they enter North Texas proper.