Wednesday, February 28, 2024
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Texas Matters: Fixing the Grid and Preparing Texas for Electric Cars

After the deadly winter storm in February, Texas leaders clearly admitted that the Texas Electric Reliability Council (ERCOT) had collapsed and that the grid would be repaired, upgraded and prepared for the next weather disaster.

Officially, at least 150 people in Texas died in the winter storm due to the extreme cold and widespread power outages. In addition, millions of Texans lost access to clean tap water and there was widespread property damage from frozen pipes.

The cost of natural gas needed during the emergency has skyrocketed, and it is unclear who is hooked for those billions of dollars.

The Texan legislature responded with Senate Bill 3, an energy collection bill that some experts call a “step in the right direction”.

It addresses the weather issues that went down on the grid in February, but not the efficiency, demand response and diversification of power generation, including battery storage.

The state senators unanimously approved the bill in March, though members of the House of Representatives have made important changes since then.

Beth Garza is a former director of the ERCOT Independent Market Monitor. She praised SB 3 for trying to address what she called the “dysfunctional relationship” between electricity and natural gas.

“And so there is one way you can go about it, and in the current language of Senate Law 3, it forces these two industries to work together on some things,” Garza said.

The bill would, among other things, set up a supply chain committee to determine how to prepare facilities that provide electricity and natural gas to maintain services in extreme weather.

Sandie Haverlah, president of the Texas Consumer Association, explained how lawmakers tried to secure the state’s energy supplies before the tragedies of the past repeat themselves.

TX electric trucks

This week we saw President Joe Biden lead the recent entry into the rapidly evolving electric vehicle market. Biden took the Ford F-150 Lightning Pickup for a spin on a test track.

Biden wants to spark interest in electric cars and trucks because he says it’s the future of transportation.

Where will Texas fit in this future? That depends on which laws relating to electric vehicles are passed by the legislator. Tom Smith is the executive director of the Texas Electric Resources Alliance in Texas.

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