Skip to comments.A Texas-Sized Energy Problem (Is Texas the new California?)
Posted on 05/02/2009 12:30:21 PM PDT by Conservative Coulter Fan
“Texas is the nation’s leader in wind energy thanks to our long-term commitment to bolstering renewable energy sources and diversifying the state’s energy portfolio.”
- Rick Perry, Texas Governor
“Our representatives [in the Texas Legislature] now have less than six weeks to pass the best of nearly 100 bills that have been introduced on clean power and green jobs. These energy efficiency and renewable energy bills set the stage for rebuilding, repowering and renewing our states economy during tough times. They will build a sustainable future for Texas.”
- Sierra Club, Environmental Defense Fund, Public Citizen
As reported by Russell Gold in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, Texas, which has the strictest renewable energy mandate in the country, is about to increase its quota for the third time. Now the wind capital of the U.S., Texas’s new law would make the state the leader in solar power as well. Expensive and intermittent, wind- and solar-forcing will work only to increase electricity rates for captive consumers and reduce reliability on the grid. Taxpayers are on the hook as well.
In a 2008 study for the Texas Public Policy Foundation, “Texas Wind Energy: Past, Present, Future,” Drew Thornley concluded:
The distinction between wind and wind energy is critical. The wind itself is free, but wind energy is anything but. Cost estimates for wind-energy generation typically include only turbine construction and maintenance. Left out are many of wind energys coststransmission, grid connection and management, and backup generationthat ultimately will be borne by Texas electric ratepayers. Direct subsidies, tax breaks, and increased production and ancillary costs associated with wind energy could cost Texas more than $4 billion per year and at least $60 billion through 2025.
How Did the Perverse Happen?
Government goes to those who show up. With utilities financially protected and not wanting to be labeled as anti-”green,” and principled taxpayer, consumer, and free-market groups virtually absent, the interventionists have taken over. Full-time environmental activists and lobbyists for rent-seeking private companies have virtually no opposition–a “Baptists and Bootleggers” scenario in the parlance of political economy.
How has Texas, which consumer choice made the leading oil and gas state, become the second most politicized energy state in the nation (after California)?
The regulatory spiral can be traced back to Enron, which in 1999 spearheaded a provision in the state electricity restructuring law (Senate Bill 7, signed by governor George W. Bush) establishing a statewide renewable-energy mandate. Enron’s lobbyists had the special interest of Enron Wind Company, which is now part of General Electric, in mind.
It was a double win for the politically connected company. First, as the leading power marketer, and with its eyes on becoming the leading electriicty retailer as well, Enron coveted mandatory open-access of electricity in the state. Secondly, it needed a big market for its money-losing Enron Wind. Cloaking both corporate-welfare goals in the guise of a renewable mandate got media-worshipped environmental groups on board to help push SB 7 across the finish line.
The 1999/2005 Texas Mandates
The Texas Renewable Portfolio Standard was originally (SB7) for 2,000 megawatts of new qualifying capacity, but the 2005 Texas Legislature (SB 20 ) increased the mandate to 5,880 MW by 2015 and a target of 10,000 MW in 2025. Virtually all of this capacity has been wind power; the prospective (third) mandate would tack-on 3,000 of non-wind (read solar) renewable capacity.
The mechanics of the mandate are interesting. All electricity providers in the state–whether competitive retailers, municipal electric utilities, or electric cooperatives–must buy renewables based on the their market share of energy sales or utilize a Renewable Energy Credit trading program managed by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). Thus, a utility in windy West Texas sells credits to those without access, such as a utility in wind-still South Texas.
SB7, by the way, also mandated that at least 10% of an investor-owned utility’s annual growth in electricity demand be met through energy efficiency programs each year–politicization on the demand side. Expect more increases as well given the current politicized setup.
The Problem in Miniature: Lobbyist Spiel
Three environmental lobbyists working the Texas Legislature penned an Earth Day editorial in the Houston Chronicle, “Enact Energy Laws to Clear Air, Create Jobs. They are:
Here is their something-for-nothing, everybody-wins, get-on-the-bandwagon editorial:
Texas citizens get it.
More of us than ever are mindful of switching off lights, weatherizing our homes and doing all that we can to save energy. State legislators can get it too. This session, they have an opportunity and responsibility to save us even more money on our electricity bills, create thousands of green jobs and reduce pollution across the state. Our representatives now have less than six weeks to pass the best of nearly 100 bills that have been introduced on clean power and green jobs. These energy efficiency and renewable energy bills set the stage for rebuilding, repowering and renewing our states economy during tough times. They will build a sustainable future for Texas.
The energy efficiency bills contain plans for helping Texas families by creating jobs while reducing consumption of electricity in our homes and buildings. When our homes and buildings are well-insulated and our appliances more efficient, we dont need to burn wasteful and damaging amounts of dirty fossil fuels for electricity.
An additional benefit to creating Texas new clean energy economy is that we can clean up our air and address climate change at the same time. As we provide new jobs installing clean energy technologies, we can decrease the public health risks and costs associated with the impacts of burning coal.
Texas citizens began rising to the call for statewide energy efficiency when we voted with our consciences and our pocketbooks, replacing millions of our hot-burning, incandescent light bulbs with more efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs. Clearly, we were up to the challenge then and believe now that all of us can do more to help the Lone Star State.
For example, utilities can set more aggressive energy efficiency goals and put programs into place that will reduce the need to use so much electricity. The bills currently being considered in the Legislature require utilities to expand energy efficiency programs to meet 1 percent of peak electricity demand by the end of 2015 and 2 percent of peak electricity demand by 2020. While these goals may seem modest, meeting them would mean saving 1,176 megawatts of electricity as much power as could be generated from two coal-fired power plants.
Utilities can also provide home energy audits that tell us how to increase our efficiency. Based on those audits, we can caulk or replace leaky windows, insulate our attics, repair our duct work, and install programmable thermostats, which allow us to preselect when we use our air conditioners, heaters and water heaters.
Cities can also help the energy efficiency cause by providing some up-front financing for energy-saving improvements. In addition, Texas will soon receive $327 million of federal stimulus funds for weatherization through the Texas Department of Housing & Community Affairs with reporting requirements on green job creation, energy savings and pollution reduction through the use of these funds.
These programs are good for Texas families. Theyre good for the environment and theyre good for the economy. Study after study including a report completed in December 2008 by the Public Utility Commission of Texas shows that Texas can reduce its peak electricity demand and growth in electricity by 23 percent by implementing a variety of energy efficiency measures. The PUC study also found that every dollar spent by Texas on energy efficiency has a three-to-one payback.
But we need action now by Texas legislators to achieve energy efficiencys full potential to meet our states energy challenges. This Legislature can and should continue the important work begun last session, when now-Speaker of the House Joe Straus led energy efficiency legislation.
Energy efficiency is the cheapest, quickest and cleanest way for Texas to meet its power needs. The Texas legislators who are championing these bills this session should be thanked for paving the way for a cleaner, sustainable future. We now call on all of our state legislators to swiftly move these bills out of committees and through floor debates to begin our sustainable future.
What about the costs of government energy-forcing? Instead of enlarging quota requirements, should Texas repeal mandates (these are not infant industries but mature ones that have promised viability for decades)? Blatantly anti-ratepayer, pro-corporate-welfare energy intervention in the post-Enron era deserves a reconsideration. As one study recently opined:
Over the past 10 years, Texas has become a leader in encouraging the development of renewable power. However, the aggressive build-out of wind power in West Texas is projected to
drive up transmission costs [$4.9 billion for starters] for all Texans and create new reliability challenges.
Governor Rick Perry, do you really want Texas to be an Obama energy state? Just because George W. Bush started the mess does not mean you have to complete it.
Where will this case study of political capitalism end?
Is it past time for free-market, consumerist, taxpayer-friendly parties to show up to the “green energy” orgy. Texas lawmakers need counter-education and pressure against the likes of Ken Kramer, Jim Marston, and Smitty Smith.
Non of the greeny pipe-dream “alternative” energy technologies are going to be the panacea they think they are but then again, greenies usually have more money than good sense and can afford just about anything so it’s really a moot point, well, except the maggot-infested unwashed hippie types.
Oh I forgot, those people are now wearing suits and ties and are now ruling our lives with environmental regulations such as: in Texas we are now taxed on our water wells, forget what your deeds say, nope, they’re gonna “save you” you see...
I challenged a envio-wacko about practicing what they preach one day (during the water well taxing scheme “debate”). I asked him to come over. We have a clothesline (always have, my wife prefers it—the dryer gets used in the winter if then), “water saver” shower heads (hard to get wet under the dern things!); the only grass is volunteer if there’s enough rainfall (since we live on a well) but it is kept trimmed and edged. Porches cover E & W side windows and the A/C is used only if temp rises to 90s+. We have two old but serviceable vehicles PAID for and they work fine but they sure won’t impress anyone.
This is not to make an impression, it’s how we live in our 30 year old home in Texas but we’re getting up in age so that’s okay. Before they came over I was going to ask my wife to fill the wash tub and put the scrubbing board in it as if she was going to wash a load of clothes, freak out time.
It panics them when I ask to see their clotheslines, paid for vehicles, water saver fixtures, etc., they KNOW they’re hypocrites. I tell them I also want to see their water saving (since everyone seems to be a water expert these days) toilets, plants and landscaping.
Our legislature only meets once every other year---and the Nannie state legislation coming out of this meeting is painful to see.
Actually, it's none of the above.
Electric generation "capacity" is defined (logically enough) as the rate power can be delivered at any time it's needed.
Wind power, unfortunately, is delivered whenever it dang well pleases.
Therefore, it does not add capacity at all.
It has to be duplicated with conventional power generation facilities.
I'm thinkin' it ought to meet just every four years...
The fallacy of the massive number of “green jobs” they say they are going to create:
in terms of energy and economic efficiency, how can an energy regime that requires thousands, if not millions of new jobs, be more efficient, in terms of energy or economics, than the present energy regime without them - it can’t - so, in fact, the cost of energy is not going to go down;
or, if the creation of all the new “green jobs” is a figment of their imagination, then what is that promise worth - zero; “job creation” in major technology shifts MOVES net jobs, from areas losing jobs to areas gaining jobs, rarely, as employment figures indicate, do they create net additional jobs.
The only energy changes worth implementing are energy changes and energy investments able to make energy CHEAPER and cheaper usually means LESS labor intensive and getting more “bang for the buck”, and nuclear is THE ONLY energy (right now) that does that.
And it’s technology is improving.
A totally self-contained, about the size of a big shed, 25-30 megawatt, mini nuc plant, producing 25-30 megawatts, is now available, for about $25 million. There is not even anything but power “released” from the system, because even the cooling system stays within the system, continually recycled.
How long before they start selling this energy to other states, after we’ve been force to pay for it.
Texas is just about eaten up with liberals and Mexicans. If it this bad here, I can only imagine what a living hell it must be in other states.
You’re right. I was just trying to show how uninformed the reporter was in terms of the size of a power plant. Just a few miles from here is the Belews Creek Plant of Duke Energy. It has two coal fired boilers that, IIRC, generate 1200 MW each. One boiler that generates 1200 MW will produce less “greenhouse gases” than two 600 MW boilers.
The GE ABWR is a reactor that can be rated between 1350 and 1460 MW.
The author was trying to make the windmills sound more advantageous than they really are.
Texas has a stand alone grid that operates outside of regulatory authority of FERC. The Texas grid won't sell to the outside because they don't want to be regulated by FERC.
Even if Texas did try to sell offgrid, their price is to high because prior to dereg much of Texas's electricity generation was converted to natural gas. Do you know how much more your electricity cost you because of the natural gas shortages caused by Katrina?
"after we've been force to pay for it"
Notice at the bottom of the article it mentions $4.9 billion for the two transmission lines that connect Dallas and San Antonio to the wind zone. That will cost you the rate payer $4 bucks a month.
Texas, which has the strictest renewable energy mandate in the country, is about to increase its quota for the third time. Now the wind capital of the U.S., Texas's new law would make the state the leader in solar power as well. Expensive and intermittent, wind- and solar-forcing will work only to increase electricity rates for captive consumers and reduce reliability on the grid. Taxpayers are on the hook as well.
The link describes how the gambit worked in California.
When the Greenies get finished a 800 SqFt home in Levitown will be the new McMansion....
We remodeled last year. Added 4 inches of foil faced rigid foam insulation to exterior of the home and 6 on interior by sistering the exterior wall shells 2x4’s w/ new 2x6 framing and using expanding foam system. Good seal on the homes shell, siding etc , new windows & doors and storm windows and doors have made a massive difference in our utility bills.
As well we went after ghost wattage big time. Yeah the microwave will blink,and the TV takes a little longer to come on and off but only thing drawing power right now in the home is fridge and freezer, ceiling fan , the TV I am watching and the LED desk lamp. We surf the net on cellular media cards and laptops. We have a large amount of hickory stored and use that to heat the homes radiant floor system with a combination wood and electric gasification boiler that allows such when we are home and is all electric if we are gone and the switch is thrown. Also we have a small glass faced door wood stove to back that up. All winter long we were able to use very very little electricity. Home is very comfortable even when extreme cold and high winds are about.
Heating up for summer will raise the bills due AC costs of course but we have lots of shade from large eaves and porches as well as trees and shade from plants etc . Stays cool on all but the really hot days . Looking at foggers and misting systems when humidity is low and evaporation will augment other systems to keep us cool .
We observed this fiasco coming first hand on the power companies. Our next expense we have saved for is to go off grid 100%. Cut the wire altogether. Right now researching and looking at combination solar panels that heat water and produce power. They are new designs and stand up to large hail as well. Plan B.
I know everyone can’t do as we have be lucky enough to get done. Yet ........insulation, awareness of whats being used and better planning can make a massive difference in utility bills !
Don’t give the utility companies anything ya don’t have to .
Stay safe and Thanks for the ping !
Thats the way to do it...
“Is Texas the new California?”
Sounds like y’all have it down RIGHT, man!
Way to go! :)
Bump ... off the grid ... that’s some serious peace of mind right there.
I am just tired of wasting my resources per se. I wanted a system that could be heated or cooled with minimal effort. Not one to rely on others if times go bad for me and mine.
We never have been a burden on our country, friends or extended family and we will try to maintain that goal ! Getting as close to zero utility costs lets us allocate resources to savings or investments in improvements.
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