Last week, Texas legislators came under fire for passing measures to improve the dependability of the power grid. Critics have raised concerns regarding the prices consumers pay and whether politicians are concentrating on the relevant issues.
Legislators supporting these measures recognize that this is a work in progress and are willing to adjust various ideas; nevertheless, some lawmakers believe that other plans should be scrapped entirely.
The Texas Legislature
Several members of the Texas legislature have compared it to a backup generator for the state. On Thursday, a hearing before a committee of the Texas Senate opened with a focus on Senate Bill 6. It requires the state to assist in developing a power plant with a capacity of 10,000 megawatts that will only be used in an emergency.
“These insurance generators will turn on only when our energy reserves fall below 1,000 MW, to prevent these assets from interfering with our competitive market,” said Senate Business and Commerce Committee Chairman Charles Schwertner.
Yet, not everyone thinks that the state-funded program will not interfere with the market. Several witnesses from the electric business stated that it would be detrimental to competitiveness.
“Because those are held out of the market, it’s 10,000 MW that consumers are paying for on their bills that are going to sit on the sidelines until we’re in a crisis,” said Michele Richmond with Texas Competitive Power Advocates.
“I think the temptation is going to be too great, and at some point in time, to see these generators sitting out there, seeing they aren’t operating, and it’s going to be very tempting to pull them into the market,” said Clif Lange, with South Texas Electric Cooperative
Meanwhile, others supported the legislation as a direct way to boost power generation.
“I think this is going to be the only bill you hear today that guarantees new construction of generation built here in Texas,” said Julia Rathgeber, with Berkshire Hathaway Energy.
Earlier this month, a news conference discussed several bills, including a plan to provide a backup generation source. This is the second attempt by lawmakers to strengthen the system in the wake of the catastrophic winter storm that occurred in 2021.
Greg Abbott tweeted that The Texas power grid has maintained ample supply throughout the winter weather this entire week. You can see below:
The Texas power grid has maintained ample supply throughout the winter weather this entire week.
Any outages are due to local issues like fallen trees and downed power lines.
Report outages to your local provider.
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) February 2, 2023
The hearing that took place on Thursday also included evidence from several individuals who echoed criticism that we have long heard from some advocates, namely, that the focus shouldn’t be on generating more power but instead on cutting demand.
“If we ignore the demand side and only focus on solutions on the supply side, we’re going to overbuild and we’re going to cost customers way too much, and there are better solutions,” said Cyrus Reed, with the Sierra Club, Lone Star Chapter.
Emma Pabst from the Sierra Club added, “Why would we force Texas customers to pay for the construction of more expensive and polluting power plants when we could cut our electricity use and reinforce the grid while safeguarding our homes?”
Legislators are gathering input and working to create a plan of action as they discuss several different measures, and this is only the beginning.
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