June 17, 2021

Unreliable Energy

By Glenn

Here we go again.  ERCOT, Electric Reliability Council of Texas, has warned us that the Texas power grid is about to fail.  That doesn’t sound very reliable to me.

It must sound reliable to Greg Abbot and Dan Patrick. They failed to provide solutions in the last legislative session.  A few ERCOT Board members did resign.  This failure, however, is a systematic problem, not a personnel problem.

We learned about the reality of systematic failure just this winter. In February, millions of Texas lost power.  At least 151 of our neighbors died as a result.  The real death toll may be as high as 700 Texans.

According to the Dallas Federal Reserve, Texas families and businesses lost between “$80 billion–$130 billion in direct and indirect economic loss.” At the same time, energy providers made billions in profits.  I guess failure is just good business.  Does it make sense to your family?

The summer heat is threatening a repeat of the freeze, and ERCOT wants you to suffer for these profits. 

It has asked you to “set your thermostat to 78 degrees or higher – every degree of cooling increases your energy use by six to eight percent” and to “Turn off lights and pool pumps and avoid using large appliances like ovens, washing machines and dryers.”

This shouldn’t surprise you.  The ERCOT board is made up of industry leaders.  As I wrote in February, Texas Republicans have made it clear that they don’t believe in regulation or oversight. 

Republicans call this the Free Market.  Energy companies are free to make a profit, and you are free to suffer.

It doesn’t have to be this way.  The Texas Legislature needs to put some teeth in energy reliability legislation.  It is wrong for companies to collect billions in customer dollars and then drop the ball when we need it most.

Michael Webber, an energy professor at University of Texas, wants more done on the demand side.  Customers need help insulating their homes and apartments.  Quality windows and insulation can be costly.

The Legislature should provide tax credits and rebates to improve Texas homes.  Not only would this reduce demand, but it also would make the indoor climate more comfortable.

As Texans, we pay billions in taxes and energy bills.  We should be calling the shots in Austin, not the energy companies.  We need reliable energy.  Systematic failure is not an option.

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