By: John Hall, Texas State Director, Clean Energy, and Sarah Ryan, Clean Energy Consultant
This month Texans have been at the mercy of some extreme, shoe-melting heat. Yet, despite the heat wave and resulting high demand in electricity, the state’s main grid operator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), has barely broken a sweat. Demand even passed the previous record-high mark twice in one afternoon, but ERCOT has not called for a single system emergency.
How is ERCOT able to handle this massive stress on the grid, even as Texas’ population continues to rise at an impressive rate? Although some new generation has come online to meet increased electricity needs in the state, two key resources are working “behind the grid” to lower demand. Energy efficiency and demand response, a way to incentivize people to conserve energy when the electric grid is stressed, are both essential tools in preventing blackouts during the hottest months of the year, while maintaining Texas’ commitment to a clean energy future.
The good news is, Texas has significant potential to grow these resources, and two utilities are already showing how the state can better harness both energy efficiency and demand response. Read More
Earlier this year, I wrote about how Kathleen Hartnett-White, director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, was confused about the basic science related to carbon dioxide (CO2) and just how much of it is good for us. She mistakenly asserted the more CO2 the better, while nearly all climate scientists agree high CO2 emissions are wreaking havoc on our planet. Time and again science indicates we are looking at irreversible, catastrophic effects if we don’t do something about it.
Apparently Hartnett-White hasn’t gone back to class – she’s at it again and she’s brought her friends. We recently saw the launch of the CO2 Coalition, a new group aiming to paint CO2 as a nutrient rather than a pollutant, of which she is a member. The real purpose of the coalition is to debunk Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, the nation’s first-ever limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants, using “science based facts” (as opposed to emotion-based?).
Similar to the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Hartnett-White’s other fossil fuel-funded alliance, the CO2 Coalition is just another front-group pretending to use science in order to protect their corporate interests. Read More
For the past 25 years, I have had the opportunity to work on clean energy and clean air issues for Texas. Throughout this time, I have come to believe the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which manages about 90 percent of Texas’ grid, is the best grid operator in the country. In my opinion, ERCOT has implemented the most competitive electric marketplace in the country, while stabilizing utility costs and maintaining reliability.
And now, Texas is being presented with an opportunity to continue leading on electricity. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has just released its historic final standards on carbon pollution from power plants, the Clean Power Plan, and Texas is well-positioned to comply. Not only that, the plan could actually be one of our state’s most effective tools for economic development and water planning.
I’m hopeful ERCOT and other involved Texas decision makers will recognize the clean energy trends already underway and seize the potential benefits within our reach through the Clean Power Plan – making the best decisions for our citizens and economy. Read More
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will soon finalize the Clean Power Plan — a suite of historic Clean Air Act standards that will establish the first nationwide limits on carbon pollution from America’s fossil fuel-fired power plants. Rigorous carbon pollution standards for the nation’s power sector will yield immense benefits for the health of our families and communities, for the American economy, and for a safer climate for our children.
Yet in the months leading up to the release of the Clean Power Plan clean air standards, coal companies and other entities that oppose reasonable limits on carbon pollution have lobbed a series of flawed and failed lawsuits directed at stopping EPA from finishing its work. Now, some power companies and their allies have concocted new – and equally misguided – attacks against the Clean Power Plan.
They’ve been suggesting that the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards case, which held that EPA must take costs into account when making a threshold decision whether to proceed with emissions limits on toxic pollution was a blow against the Clean Power Plan. They’ve also been arguing that states should “Just Say No” to developing plans for implementing the Clean Power Plan’s vital protections to limit carbon pollution for climate and public health.
As we explain below, these critics are flat wrong – on the meaning of the Supreme Court’s decision, on the decision’s implications for the Clean Power Plan, and on the validity of “just saying no.” Read More
By: Peter Sopher, policy analyst, clean energy, and Sarah Ryan, clean energy consultant
Over the past century, the electric grid in the United States has experienced only minor changes. There is evidence, however, the power sector is changing. We are moving away from traditional coal generation and toward alternative, cleaner energy sources. And despite our state being primarily known for oil and gas, Texas is no exception.
In fact, Texas’ electricity sector has been trending cleaner over the past decades, driven by deregulation of the electricity market, the development of the massive highway of transmission lines built to carry West Texas wind to cities throughout the state – the Competitive Renewable Energy Zone (CREZ), and technological progress. Basically, once the market was opened up to competition, the more economic options – which also happen to be cleaner – began to gain a foothold. And there’s no stopping this train.
Where we are and where we’re going
To start, the declining use of fossil fuels to power our lives is perhaps the most significant change in Texas. As shown in Figure 1 below, fossil fuels’ (coal and gas’) proportion of the state’s electricity generation mix shrunk from 88 percent in 2002 to 82 percent in 2013. Read More
A carbon emissions reduction policy for power plants could prevent thousands of premature deaths
When it comes to reducing carbon pollution from power plants, details in policy choices matter, especially for the state of Texas.
The final proposal of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan, which would put the first ever national limits on carbon pollution from power plants in the U.S., is expected later this summer. It comes on the heels of the publication of an important study in Nature Climate Change, which examined three different power plant carbon policy options and then investigated how each would affect clean air and public health.
The study is titled Health Co-benefits of Carbon Standards for Existing Power Plants, and was conducted by scientists Dr. Buonocore and Dr. Charles Driscoll as well as their colleagues from Harvard, Syracuse, and Boston Universities. Read More