By the Beaumont Company
Southeast Texans would never ignore the plight of other residents of this state, but it’s time we were thankful that we were on a different power grid than the rest of Texas. A typical Texas summer is just beginning, but there are already fears that the state’s main power grid may not be able to provide enough electricity to keep homes and businesses air-conditioned. This is quite concerning, but some of the solutions ordered by Governor Greg Abbott will not solve the problem.
Abbott has ordered the Utilities Board to make substantial changes to “ensure the reliability of the Texas power grid,” but he wants to rely more on the same power sources that failed in the February freeze as well. than a heat wave in early June. .
Abbott wants incentives for traditional power plants fired by coal or natural gas as well as penalties for renewable energy sources such as wind or solar. He wants renewables producers to pay extra costs for times when they don’t supply electricity to the grid and set up a maintenance schedule so they are supposed to prevent mechanical breakdowns.
These movements are political, not practical. Abbott, facing two far-right challengers for the Republican nomination next year, doesn’t want to be seen as soft on oil or gas – or too favorable to wind or solar power.
There is no operational rationale for these orders, and they ignore the ironic fact that oil-friendly Texas produces more wind power than any other state – 23% of our state’s total and 28% of all l wind power in the country. The state’s wind power is half of the world’s largest source of energy – 46% natural gas – but is increasing every year. Coal produces only 18% of the state’s electricity, of which 11% comes from solar power plants and 2% from the state’s two nuclear power plants.
Abbott and all governors across the country should encourage greater use of clean wind and solar power. Fossil fuels still make up a large portion of power generation in Texas and most other states, but that probably won’t be the case in 20 or 30 years. The global shift to renewables is clear, and it may even be less costly for consumers if it is developed properly.
In the meantime, if Abbott wants Texas to get through this summer without a blackout, he should do everything possible to bolster all electricity providers, regardless of their source.
“What we need for reliable electricity is not to pick winners and losers,” said Daniel Cohan, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Rice University, “but to find better ways for all these energy sources to work together for a better team functioning. “
Another glaring point is that the recent regular session of the Legislative Assembly which ended on May 31 was supposed to solve this problem. The February freeze came when members of the House and Senate gathered in Austin, and they were reassured by angry voters who had no electricity for days. Abbott himself even proclaimed on June 8, “Everything that needed to be done was done to fix the power grid in Texas. But a brief period of heat at the beginning of June brought back the same capacity problems as in winter.
Most of the Texas power grid is governed by the (ironically named) Electric Reliability Council of Texas – ERCOT. Southeast Texas operates under a separate network, the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, or MISO. But even if the two electrical systems are not directly connected, what is happening in the rest of Texas can affect our region. We had brief blackouts in February instead of multi-day blackouts, and while that was bearable, it was hardly ideal.
State officials should not play political games with our power supply. We need more and more reliability. This summer, consumers won’t care if it’s from a natural gas plant or a wind farm, and neither will politicians.