Both bills additionally set aside $100 million for the Parks and Wildlife Department to acquire land. The agency has been scrambling to figure out how to buy Fairfield Lake State Park, which sits on property it leased for free from Vistra Corp. A real estate developer entered into a contract to buy the property, which was listed for $110 million.

The 2021 storm nearly collapsed the state’s electric grid as people cranked up their heaters to fight freezing temperatures. Grid operators set the price for electricity at what was then its maximum — $9,000 per megawatt-hour — leaving electricity providers with massive costs.

“The February storm and related market failures were substantially beyond the control of electric co-ops,” said Mark Stubbs, general manager of the Farmers Electric Cooperative, to legislators at the committee hearing. “People were freezing, and we did everything possible to keep the lights on with no thought to the economic consequences.”

Meanwhile, natural gas fuel prices spiked more than 700% during the storm.

President of the Texas Consumer Association Sandra Haverlah also questioned why state officials didn’t pause the issuance of the bonds until they decided whether they were going to pay all or part off, saving taxpayers from paying various fees and bond-related costs. Bonds were already issued to cover debt for the electric cooperatives starting early last year, Forbes reported.

This article was written by EMILY FOXHALL  of The Texas Tribune.  The Texas Tribune is a nonpartisan, nonprofit media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them – about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.  This article originally appeared at: