Perspective: Rebalancing Texas’ Grid the Right Way



Editor’s note: The Railroad Commission of Texas is The Railroad Commission of Texas is the state agency with primary regulatory jurisdiction over the oil and natural gas industry, pipeline transporters, natural gas and hazardous liquid pipeline industry, natural gas utilities, the LP-gas industry, and coal and uranium surface mining operations.

By Wayne Christian, Chairman, Railroad Commission of Texas


On the afternoon July 11, the part of the Texas electric grid managed by the Electricity Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) produced roughly 80,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity. Thermal power plants (natural gas, coal, and nuclear) generated approximately 68,000 MW, solar roughly 11,000 MW, and wind around 1,000 MW.

Now imagine a basketball game where one player scores 68 points, another player scores 11, and the last player scores one point. Who had the best game? Who would you want on your team?

The media would pick wind and solar, but only liberal democrats and radical environmentalists would celebrate the player with one point as the player of the game.

Here’s the truth: wind and solar didn’t, can’t, and never have “won” the game for Texans. The underperformance of wind and solar power is what caused ERCOT to issue a request for conservation on July 11. Wind and solar didn’t win the game, they nearly lost it.

The Houston Chronicle claims that without wind and solar the Texas electric grid would be in trouble, but the opposite is true. It’s because of wind and solar we’re in trouble, and it’s only thanks to thermal energy did Texas avoid problems this time. If real life were like sports, thermal energy would be the MVP and wind and solar would get a participation trophy.

On the one hand, climate alarmists say that wind and solar can replace natural gas and coal to meet our energy needs while reducing carbon emissions. But, on the other hand, when these unreliable forms of energy fail, they claim they are not to blame because, they are only ” expected to make up a faction of what the state planned for”  So, which is it?

The issue isn't the existence of wind and solar energy, but that it has displaced reliable generation not through natural market forces but through punitive regulatory policies and massive subsidies. Resources that could have otherwise been spent adding reliable generation from natural gas, nuclear, or clean coal to keep up with increasing demand for electricity were instead spent on subsidizing and building out transmission lines for unreliable, intermittent forms of energy that were “never expected” to perform during times like these.

So, my message to Texans is this: let’s empower the MVP. Instead of continuing to spend tens of billions building ($66 billion) and subsidizing ($22 billion) unreliable wind and solar energy, like we have over the last 20 years, let’s start building more reliable thermal electric generation. Our electric grid needs a rebalancing away from unreliable wind and solar toward reliable thermal energy. Texans deserve cheap, plentiful, and reliable energy and with Texas adding 1,000 people a day we are going to need more of it. 







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