Wednesday, May 31, 2023

The Clueless Award


 It's hard to imagine just how clueless most Rs are these days, but here in Texas, the R controlled Texas legislature gets my nomination for the much coveted Clueless Award.  Texas has been Red since the early nineties when Ann Richards and Jim Hightower, along with a host of other D's actually tried to govern a state with such enormous diversity in land, climate, and people.

But even with most of the big cities turning blue over the last decade, the rural areas still run the show.  It's gotten so unruly in Harris County, where Houston is,  the R's wrote and passed a bill that allows them to take over the voting administration  from the locally elected officials.  So much for local home rule.

So besides waging the usual culture wars on gays,  children,  women's health, and public schooling, the 88th legislature decided that they needed to stop one of the best things we have in Texas.  And that is our large and growing Renewable Energy industry.

That's the same industry that builds football fields and basketball field houses in lots of West Texas counties that don't have a sufficient tax base without the hundreds of millions dollars of renewable investments that have been planted in the hills and valleys of rural Texas.

So this session, legislators  spent a lot of energy arguing over bills that would make renewable energy harder to build and provide multi-billion-dollar payouts to companies to construct new gas-fired power plants. This from Canary Media:

There is an irrational animus toward renewables, a fundamental misunderstanding of what is causing the problems on the grid and what could be done to improve the situation,”  said Doug Lewin of the Texas Energy and Power Newsletter  in a Tuesday interview. We’re not even talking about the right things. All the debates at the end were about how much we’re going to screw over renewables, rather than what we’re going to do to fix these problems.”

But the most expensive and counterproductive policies, among the many threatening to undermine clean energy and drive up consumer costs, failed to be passed into law,  Lewin said.

That’s because a remarkable coalition of environmentalists, industry organizations and business groups” — including more than 50 chambers of commerce and trade groups representing manufacturers and even the oil and gas industry — united to defeat the worst measures, Lewin wrote in a post-session roundup for his Texas Energy and Power Newsletter. Together, these unusual bedfellows were able to stop a slew of policies that multiple analyses warned could increase costs to Texas energy consumers by billions of dollars per year without any evidence that they would improve grid reliability.

Those amendments threatened to increase the cost of electricity for Texas consumers by as much as $10 billion per year, according to IdeaSmiths, an analysis firm co-founded by University of Texas at Austin research scientist Joshua Rhodes. That would mean an increase of 50 percent over today’s costs, which have already risen significantly since the February 2021 grid disaster.

Over the final days of the session, a reconciliation committee (conference) working to align the Senate and House versions of HB 1500 managed to get rid of many of the most potentially harmful amendments."












Today,  Wind power and Solar power will be powering over 1/3 of Texas' homes and businesses and electric vehicles. And when you include our other non carbon generators, the total is 40%.  And it's very reliable, inexpensive, predictable power.  Look at today's power curve from ERCOT.


You can see that solar and wind together make a very nice match to the daytime load:






10 years ago, when I was serving as Chairman of the Austin Electric Utility Commission and the Generation Planning Taskforce, I spoke about the Renewable Symphony and  how well placed renewables can follow the State's load quite effectively.

Of course, we will have and will need natural gas generation for another decade or more.

Climate Change is occurring whether or not the Republican Party knows it 

or just chooses to disregard it.

I asked a leading lobbyist how we did as the session ended.

He said, we survived a plane crash.

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