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New Plans to Fix Texas Power Grid Will Cost Residents Billions

The Texas Senate has put forward a number of proposals aimed at improving the state’s electricity infrastructure.

Senate Bill 6, for example, seeks to establish the Texas Energy Insurance Program, which would provide backup power in the event of an emergency. While some have expressed concerns about the cost of this program, it could ultimately help to ensure that the state’s power grid is more reliable and less vulnerable to blackouts.

Senate Bill 7 has been criticized for potentially hampering the development of wind and solar power. However, the bill also seeks to ensure that the state’s existing power infrastructure remains competitive and reliable, which could ultimately benefit consumers.

Senate Bill 2015 aims to increase the use of natural gas in the state’s power generation. While some have expressed concern about the cost of this shift, natural gas is a cleaner and more reliable source of power than coal, and could ultimately help to reduce emissions.

Sen. Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown, Lt Gov. Dan Patrick, and Sen. Phil King, along with other lawmakers held a press conference to discuss Texas energy bills in the works in the senate at the Texas State Capitol.

Patrick and Schwertner want to funnel money away from clean energy and toward fossil fuels just as we need to phase them out to stop global warming. Their proposed laws ignore new technologies that are revolutionizing the electric industry by boosting efficiency and controlling demand.

Texas’ GOP leadership is trying to destroy the system it built, which encourages companies and technologies to compete to provide the cheapest, most reliable power. Our widely admired free market system would be replaced with the big-government structure we abandoned in 1999.

They are proposing plans that will drive up customers’ electricity bills, wreck the climate, and further enrich Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway Energy. These dinosaurs are going to waste billions on archaic solutions for 21st century problems.

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If the Dan Patrick’s bills become law, they will destroy the competitive electricity market and return Texas to the era of big government. Republican senators ill have squandered the opportunity to modernize the Electric Reliability Council of Texas grid and bring true reliability.

Senate Bill 6 establishes the Texas Energy Insurance Program. Senate Business and Commerce Committee Chair Charles Schwertner calls it a statewide backup generator. He wants consumers to pay government-mandated prices for companies to build 10,000 megawatts of natural gas-fueled power plants as backup power for 40 years. That’s enough power for 4 million homes that will sit idle at least 97 percent of the time. So consequently, many look at it and call it a multibillion-dollar waste of money designed to enrich Berkshire Hathaway Energy, earning the company a guaranteed 9 percent rate of return for the company.

Only the biggest companies would participate. Prerequisites include already operating 15,000 megawatts of generation and possessing $1 billion in assets for every 1,000 megawatts they provide. And Texas consumers would have to pick up a $10 billion price tag to have the brand-new, highly-efficient power plants sit idle, waiting for another, perfectly avoidable crisis.

Schwertner’s bill excludes battery storage and all other clean emergency power sources. Senate Bill 7 would essentially kill new wind and solar power, which are the cheapest sources of new electricity. The bill forces renewable facilities to subsidize fossil fuel power plants, which is just insane. It seems like the Republicans’ goal is to keep coal plants open and burn more natural gas.

Senate Bill 2015 puts a bow on Patrick’s plan by mandating that half of the state’s electricity come from natural gas, regardless of the cost to consumers. Everyone would have to pay higher prices for natural gas-generated electricity because the law would force ERCOT to reject cheaper wind and solar energy to obey the law.

Finally, there is Senate Bill 2012, Schwertner’s and Patrick’s nuclear option if the electricity industry fights too hard against the other bills. It implements the PUC’s favored reliability plan, the Performance Credit Mechanism, but with onerous obligations on generators. The measure would break up the retail electric business, which some generators rely on for profitability. The law would end the prohibition against transmission line companies owning power plants and force them to build natural gas facilities if existing generators do not build enough.

Lastly, Senate Bill 2404 is a do-nothing bill that establishes a toothless Texas Energy Efficiency Council to make recommendations to future legislatures.

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