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Freight ShuttleOn September 9th, Adrian Shelley and I went to Bryan, Texas, to watch the unveiling of the Freight Shuttle System (FSS), a technology  currently being built and tested by Freight Shuttle International. Dr. Stephen Roop, chief scientist at Freight Shuttle International and and professor at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, opened the unveiling with a press briefing sharing his vision. The FSS is an electric, autonomous shuttle powered by a linear induction motor, providing low friction to the steel wheels running on steel lines, similar to train tracks. The FSS combines elements of truck and train transport – single shuttles run on a track similar to a train track, and according to Dr. Roop’s vision, those tracks would be elevated from other modes of transportation to reduce congestion, provide a strong level of predictability and non-stop service, and reduce infrastructure damage often associated with truck transportation. 

Dr. Roop noted the emissions of the FSS are tied to the source of power. What that means is that the FSS itself would generate no point-of-source pollution like the cancer-causing pollution created by diesel engines currently on the road. Furthermore, because the FSS would operate under DC voltage, it could be tied easily to renewable energy. In that way, the FSS could take advantage of the increasing access to renewable energy in Texas and potentially be net zero in terms of carbon pollution.

Adrian and Stephanie with Freight Shuttle

Adrian and Stephanie with Freight Shuttle

The FSS is not designed to transport hazardous or toxic materials, and although it could possibly be used to transport people, it is intended now to be separate from people – that is to be contained within a separate line so that the roads and highways can be used for people, not cargo.

The Port of Houston Authority signed a memorandum of understanding with Freight Shuttle International and is planning to use the FSS to transport cargo between its container terminals, Bayport and Barbour’s Cut. Freight Shuttle International stated that the FSS line could be operational within 3 years.

 

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SAN ANTONIO – The newly formed Re-Energize San Antonio Coalition called on CPS Energy to meet a set of conditions before following through with an October rate hike.

Describing the hike as an increase that will “unfairly burden residential taxpayers,” coalition members called on CPS to take steps to reduce pollution, waste and costs for consumers.

The coalition presented its demands in a petition handed off to the utility during the Monday, Sept. 9 CPS Rate Case Input Session held at the TriPoint Grantham Center.

“We oppose the rate hike because it promotes unsustainable growth, driven by dirty energy, on the shoulders of the poor and working class folks who already pay the most for energy costs relative to income and quality of housing stock,” said Dr. Marisol Cortez, scholar-in-residence at the Esperanza Peace & Justice Center.
(more…)

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wind_turbine_aalborgProbably not overall, but the City of Houston has made a historic commitment – to buy half its power from renewable sources.

Houston was built around the oil and gas industries and has long suffered the consequences of being home to many of the nation’s most polluting refining and chemical manufacturing facilities.  Purchasing clean energy for the City’s facilities won’t change all that, but it does represent a significant change in mindset.

In the absence of federal legislation to address the increasingly pressing problem of climate change, local action has become essential.  At the very least, the energy used in public buildings – that taxpayers pay for – should be clean energy.  Houston is taking a huge step in that direction.

Wind energy is already one of the cheaper energy sources in Texas and solar energy is becoming competitive, especially as prices increase with higher energy demand.  These trends will be helped by large-scale investments like the one Houston is making.

Moving away from energy from coal-fired power plants will also help keep jobs growing in Texas.  Luckily, this isn’t an issue of jobs vs. the environment.  It’s an easy choice of supporting both.  Kudos to Houston to for recognizing an opportunity to take a leadership role.

Talk to your local elected officials about using clean energy to power your public buildings.

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While Austin City Council continues to move forward with an ordinance to transfer governing authority of Austin Energy from our elected City Council to an unelected board, Austin democracy is being attacked at in the state legislature as well.  Senate bill 410, sponsored by Senator Kirk Watson and Representative Paul Workman, would allow the city to establish an unelected board without a charter election, as our city charter calls for.

The issue of who should govern Austin Energy is important, but it’s also local in nature.  There is no need for state to amend Austin’s charter.  That is a right reserved for the citizens of Austin.  If the changes proposed by City Council are truly in the best interest of our city, that case should be made to the voters and decided upon at the ballot box. 

To have a state representative who doesn’t even live in Austin carrying a bill to change our charter is unacceptable.

The Austin City Charter was adopted by the people of Austin and the people of Austin approved a governance structure for Austin Energy that is accountable to the people through elections.

An unelected board won’t be directly accountable to the ratepayers and wouldn’t necessarily represent our values.  As we debate this issue in Austin the unelected board at San Antonio’s CPS Energy is slashing the rate customers with solar installations will receive for their energy in half without first consulting the public or the solar industry.  Austin Energy customers could be facing similar changes if we don’t act now to protect our rights.

SB 410 has passed the Senate and will be heard by the House Committee on State Affairs tomorrow.

Please consider attending the hearing and speaking against SB 410.

What: Hearing on SB 410 to change Austin’s charter to move Austin Energy governance to an undemocratic board without a vote by the citizens of Austin, as our charter requires.

When: 1:00pm on Wednesday, May 1

Where: John H. Reagan (JHR) building, room 140 – 105 W. 15th St., Austin, TX, 78701

Why: Because Austin Energy’s governance structure will impact decisions going forward, including on renewable energy and energy efficiency programs and rates.  This is the decision that will determine how other decisions are made.

You can register against the bill at the kiosks outside of room 140.  Even if you don’t wish to speak, registering against the bill would be helpful.  We hope you’ll consider saying a few words about the value of local democracy though.  Speakers will be limited to 3 minutes each.

SB 410 is anti-democratic and is one more example of the state government trying to interfere with Austin’s internal policies and governance.

We need your help to stop this bill.

Public opposition to SB 410 at Wednesday’s hearing may be the only thing that can ensure that our Austin representatives don’t let this bad bill move forward.

Please email Kaiba White at kwhite (at) citizen.org if you can attend the hearing at 1:00pm on Wednesday.

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I was part of and witnessed an inspiring evening at Austin City Hall yesterday.  Engaged citizens came together to speak passionately about the importance of maintaining democratic leadership for Austin Energy, our city’s electric utility.

Many people talked about wanting the right to vote on a change in governance, about the importance of accountable leaders and about the need for multiple public hearings to discuss this important issue.  Others spoke about our utility continuing to invest in renewable energy and energy efficiency and maintaining our commitment to assisting low income families with their electric bills.  The voices were many and varied and the process took hours.

And we made a difference.

Several important amendments were added to the ordinance that, if they remain, limit the powers granted to the unelected board and increase oversight by our elected City Council.  Councilwoman Laura Morrison continued to be our champion on the Council, but Councilmen Chris Riley and Mike Martinez also emerged as allies on numerous amendments to lessen the negative impact of establishing an unelected board.  I commend them on their willingness to listen to the public and make changes to address some of our concerns.  (It should be noted that Councilwoman Tovo was in China for City business, but has also stood by the people throughout this debate.)

There is still a lot of work to be done to eliminate the threat of an unelected board, but it’s clear that public participation does make a difference.  And that’s our fundamental point.  We, the people, wish to retain our direct access to and influence on those who govern Austin Energy.  An unelected board wouldn’t be accountable to the ratepayers.

Please visit CleanEnergyForAustin.org to stay informed over the next week.  Email me at kwhite(at)citizen.org to receive email updates.  This isn’t over yet.

I remember the feeling of community brewing

Of democracy happening

~Ani Difranco

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algae-open-pondChlorella sp. is a species of algae that has a significant proportion of fatty acids to its body mass. For humans, this can be a problem. But, in a world needing more clean energy, fatty biomass is considered a promising option by many scientists and engineers.

Why algae? Algae can grow in a body of water almost anywhere. We don’t need to use any of our precious farmland to grow it. Water conservationists may initially be concerned, but a group of scientists found that Chlorella sp. thrives in our waste water. Not only that, it cleans up the water, removing ammonia and a host of toxic metals. According to their report, the algae could be used to help clean up waste water at municipal water treatment plants then harvested for biofuels.

graph_algaeI had a chance to speak with Dr. Martin Poenie, Associate Professor in Molecular Cell & Developmental Biology, at The University of Texas at Austin. The Poenie Lab is helping to develop a technique for harvesting the oils from algae that could greatly reduce cost. Dr. Poenie also told me algae can be a significant source of phosphates, which we use in fertilizers. One of the most significant things about algae biofuels, is their small carbon footprint and high energy content. CO2 is sequestered during the growth phase of the algae and it is not released until the fuel is burned. On the whole, biofuels from algae look promising, and the variety of products that can be derived from it will make algae farming even more profitable.

Texas could do more to capture the energy and job benefits from this home grown energy source. Texas Legislature should act to strengthen renewable energy goals. HB 303, SB 1239, and HB  723 would all be good steps in the right direction.

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While the proposed resolution to give Austin Energy governance responsibilities to an appointed board has been taken off the “consent agenda”, it’s still alive and kicking.

City Council will take up the issue at 6 p.m. this evening (Thurs, 2/14) and I hope you can take a bit of time before dinner to stand up for your rights. 

Austin Energy is a owned by us, the citizens of Austin.  Currently, we can influence the direction the utility takes by showing up at City Council meetings (just as I’m hoping you will tonight) and voicing your opinions.  The people of Austin have spoken passionately and convincingly on a variety of issues including development of strong solar energy programs,  assistance for the poor and keeping rates affordable for everyone.  City Council has often changed it’s course as a result of public outcry.  They do so because they know that they can be held accountable at the ballot box (or the electronic voting machine, as the case may be).

An appointed board could dramatically limit the ability that each of us has to ensure that Austin Energy is governed in a way that aligns with our values.

Some have argued that a board could focus more on the important issues at Austin Energy, but an appointed board is not the only option.  With City Council soon to be enlarged – when we move to the 10-1 system with geographic representation – there could easily be a subcommittee that focuses on the governance and oversight of Austin Energy.  If some members of City Council don’t wish to be burdened with the responsibility of governing our most (monetarily) valuable asset, then they could decline to serve on such a subcommittee.

Some Austin Energy customers who live outside Austin have complained that they have no representation in the governing body of Austin Energy (which is Austin City Council).  That’s a fair point and could easily be remedied by reserving one seat (or whatever is proportional based on population) on the subcommittee for an elected representative of those customers residing outside city limits.  What doesn’t make sense it to disenfranchise everyone just because some people aren’t currently represented.

Yes, the system could be more perfect and we at Public Citizen are always working toward making it so, but with all the awards and national recognition that Austin Energy has received, we must be doing something right.

So, please, make your voice heard at City Hall tonight.  The proposed resolution is “Item #46” and will be taken up at 6 p.m.  You can register to speak or register your opposition at the kiosks in the City Hall lobby.  You can donate your speaking time to someone else, but you must be present at the meeting to do so. If you drive, you can park in the garage underneath City Hall and get your parking validated in the lobby.

If you can’t make it to the meeting tonight, send City Council a letter letting them know you oppose the formation of an appointed board to govern Austin Energy.

For more information, please visit www.cleanenergyforaustin.org.

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Texas Capitol - north viewTwo bills have now been filed in the Texas House that would expand the state’s goals for renewable energy.  Representative Rafael Anchia‘s bill, HB 723, would establish goals for growing renewable energy installations other than large-scale wind through 2022.  Similarly, Representative Eddie Rodriquez‘s bill, HB 303, would establish a goal for solar installations and increase the existing goal (which was met 15 years ahead of schedule) for all renewable energy for 2020.

We applaud these efforts and the leadership that Rep. Anchia and Rep. Rodriquez are showing by filing these bills.  These proposals recognize that success is a good thing and something we want more of.  You wouldn’t think that would need saying, but when a state agency recommends tossing out a successful policy, I start to wonder.  Texas’s renewable energy goals have been extraordinarily successful.  Not only have the goals been met ahead of time, but they have spurred development of the wind industry in Texas, bringing economic benefits to rural parts of West Texas, as well as to manufacturing centers.  On top of that, wind energy is helping to keep electric bills lower.

A carpenter doesn’t throw away her hammer just because she finished building her first book shelf and Texas shouldn’t repeal it’s renewable energy policies, just because we’ve met some of our goals (remember, the non-wind goal was never enforced).  Wind energy does now makes a substantial contribution to meeting the state’s electrical needs – it contributed a record 26% this past Christmas day, but solar energy is still very underutilized (accounting for less than 1% of energy on the ERCOT grid, which serves 85% of the Texas population) and the geothermal energy industry is still getting off it’s feet.  As Rep. Anchia and Rep. Rodriquez’s bills show, this successful policy tool can be adjusted to keep moving Texas forward.

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The South-central Partnership for Energy Efficiency as a Resource (SPEER) enters its second year with an exciting Summit, designed to explore, further develop, and prioritize policies and strategies needed to push energy efficiency forward in new buildings, existing buildings, and electric markets in Texas and Oklahoma.

Ed Mazria, founder and CEO of Architecture 2030, will deliver the keynote address to kick off the Summit in Austin on February 25. Mr. Mazria is an international leader on efforts to make buildings dramatically more energy and water efficient, leading the movement to establish 2030 districts in cities with goals to reach carbon neutrality by 2030. These districts have been established so far in Los Angeles, Seattle, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh.

Public Citizen members can receive a $50 discount off the registration. On the registration page, select “Early Registration- Supporting Organization” and then select “Public Citizen” from the drop down menu.

Sponsors of the SPEER Summit include Dow Chemical, CCRD Partners, Mitsubishi, Environments for Living, TexEnergy Solutions, BASF, the Texas Home Energy Raters Organization, and the CleanTX Foundation.

To learn more about the Energy Efficiency Summit, please visit: www.eepartnership.org/summit

 

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Don't blame the windCheck out Public Citizen’s Texas director’s, Tom “Smitty” Smith, response to CPS Energy CEO Doyle  Beneby‘s op-ed in the San Antonio Express last week that blamed Texas wind power plants for creating problems by producing such cheap power that it made it hard to build new gas plants or profitably operate those we have.

Click here to read “Don’t blame wind energy for lack of new power plants”

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Orbach: $1 billion for energy storage research could launch state’s next energy era

Watch for the University of Texas at Austin to soon make a $1 billion pitch to lawmakers aimed at unleashing the state’s vast potential to lead the nation and even the world in renewable energy production.

Ray Orbach, director of UT’s Texas Energy Institute, has compiled what he considers a compelling case for a large public investment in battery storage research meaningful enough to launch Texas into a new energy economy that taps the state’s enormous potential capacity for solar, wind and geothermal power generation.

“I really would like to have a crash program. My thought is it could be comparable to the cancer initiative,” he told Texas Energy Report. “I would like to see it in the billion-dollar range. My point is the potential is there. I just think it’s crazy not to sit down and optimize it for Texas.”

Orbach said a new study found that Texas has the potential to lead the nation in nearly every form of renewable energy. In concentrating solar alone – which allows for fluctuations that make it more economical – tapping just one percent of Texas’ total capacity could generate electricity equivalent to the entire needs of the ERCOT (Electric Reliability Council of Texas) power grid, he said.

“We have as much energy potential above ground as we do below ground,” Orbach said this week to an audience attending a symposium sponsored by the Texas Public Utility Commission called “Renewable Solutions for Energy Prosperity in Texas.”

Citing a just released July study called “U.S. Renewable Energy Technical Potentials: A GIS-Based Analysis,” Orbach laid out what’s in it for Texas if the state’s leading scientific minds solve the energy storage puzzle:

Urban utility-scale photovoltaics:  Texas has the highest estimated potential (13 percent of the U.S.)

Rural utility-scale photovoltaic: Texas has the highest estimated potential (14 percent of the U.S.

Rooftop photovoltaic’s: Texas has the second-highest estimated potential (9 percent of the U.S.)

Concentrating solar power: Texas has the highest estimated potential (20 percent of U.S.)

Onshore wind power: Texas has the highest estimated potential (17 percent of U.S.)

Offshore wind power: Hawaii has the highest estimated potential, while Texas has 6 percent of U.S.

Enhanced geothermal systems: Texas has the highest estimated potential (10 percent of U.S.)

“The opportunities are so enormous. I was stunned,” Orbach said of his reaction when he read the study that takes into account environmental and land-use constraints, and topographical limitations.

Because each of the renewable capacity calculations is based on the same total land, Orbach said Texas leaders need to determine how to best optimize the state’s renewable resources with decisions about which fuel mix to pursue and where. In an interview, he acknowledged that political and economic considerations would pose major challenges, but he suggested a planning commission appointed by the governor and legislators could help navigate those.

Think of the planning concept as akin to the Texas Railroad Commission’s early history in setting production limits to ensure that oil and gas resources would last longer with conservation measures such as adequate well spacing, he said.  And think of state’s commitment to building CREZ (Competitive Renewable Energy Zones) transmission lines to transport wind energy as a parallel to the research commitment needed to solve the problem of energy battery storage for wind and solar.

With its federal production tax credits, Orbach said wind has posed pricing issues for ERCOT’s wholesale competitive market. But he insisted he’s a free-market advocate who does not think wind or solar would need any subsidies to compete. As for kick-starting research to solve energy storage issues, he said Texans should think of that as an investment that would repay itself many times over.

“Our future will depend on our ability to store base load electricity from fluctuating sources. We are truly blessed with intellectual and energy sources. It’s time for a zoning, an optimization of how we use these wonderful resources for the benefit of citizens in this state,” Orbach said. “This is not just a Texas issue. The market for what we produce in Texas is global. You can think outside the boundaries of our state for these opportunities.”

In addition to the big picture, some of Texas’ energy opportunities have hardly been discussed, he said. The potential for enhanced geothermal energy alone, he said, is 384 gigawatts. That’s equivalent to five times the total ERCOT load.

Geothermal energy taps into underground heat, and fracturing underground rock is one way to release the heat. He points to natural gas wells hydraulically fractured in the Barnett Shale of North Texas and their future to be repurposed in 10 to 20 years for renewable energy production. The wells have already fractured rock at a depth of 8,000 to 10,000 feet where temperatures range from 200-300 degrees Fahrenheit, he noted.

“What happens when those wells are played out? Do we just cap them and walk away? They are a source of potential enhanced geothermal energy. We have the sources now that we’re using for liquids and gas and oil that in fact may well be available in the future for enhanced geothermal,” Orbach said.

Meanwhile, the price of solar panels is dropping sharply as China floods the market with panels at 80 cents a watt, he said. Consequently, solar installations in the first half of this year doubled to 1,254 megawatts over the 623 installed in the first six months of 2011. That’s the size of a nuclear reactor, he said, and this year it will amount to two.

“It’s a revolution,” he added. “It’s a sign for those of us interested in solar and wind and renewable energy that there’s an opportunity here for Texas to be mined.”

By Polly Ross Hughes

Copyright September 14, 2012, Harvey Kronberg, www.texasenergyreport.com, All rights are reserved.  Reposted by TexasVox.org with permission of the Texas Energy Report.

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No Bailout for Energy Future HoldingsEnergy Future Holdings, formerly TXU, of Dallas might be looking for a handout – from you.

Back in January, Moody’s changed Energy Future Holdings Corp’s rating outlook to negative and made it impossible to ignore what anyone who had been paying attention to the company’s quarterly reports already knew: Energy Future Holdings is on a path heading towards bankruptcy.  Now there are rumors floating around that the company may ask the Texas Legislature to approve a public or ratepayer-funded bailout.

Neither option would benefit majority of Texas citizens and we urge everyone to sign our petition in opposition to any bailout proposal for Energy Future Holdings

You might wonder how the profitable TXU end up as the failing Energy Future Holdings.  The answer is twofold.

First, in Texas, electricity prices are set based on the price of natural gas.  When natural gas prices were high, this meant that coal-fired power plants could reap additional profit.  This made TXU an attractive acquisition because the company owned many coal-fired power plants.  But now, natural gas prices have plummeted and those same coal-fired power plants, especially the oldest and most inefficient, are dragging Energy Future Holdings down.  The private equity investors made a big bet on the wrong energy source.

The second problem is that Energy Future Holdings was acquired in a leveraged buyout.  What that means is that instead of the investors paying the full amount to buy TXU, they financed the deal partially through loans to the company.  While the company has done a good job of staving off the day of reckoning by refinancing many of those loans, many are approaching maturity and additional refinancing options are limited by the negative prospects for the company.

So, while TXU was a profitable company with relatively low debt, Energy Future Holdings is an unprofitable company (because of low natural gas prices) with massive debt (because of the leveraged buyout) that is approaching maturity.  This isn’t a good combination and some people are going to lose money on the deal (many already have).  However, those losses shouldn’t be placed on Texas taxpayers or ratepayers.

Tell your state representatives and senators that you oppose bailing out failed corporations.

Most of us have to live with the consequences of our bad decisions.  Help us make sure that Wall Street and private equity firms must do the same.

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San Antonio’s dreams of becoming a solar manufacturing hub have been deferred temporarily.  CPS Energy, the city’s municipally owned utility, couldn’t come to agreement with two unnamed finalists and will restart a bidding process that would put San Antonio into the top tier of solar users around the globe by seeking bids for 400 megawatts of solar power, enough to power 80,000 homes, and will require the winning bidder to bring manufacturing jobs to the Alamo City.

San Antonio is trying to marry investment in renewables with economic development in an effort to keep the cost of electricity as low as possible while getting as many jobs as possible, but the city has had a learning curve in this process, yet they remain confident that this vision can come to fruition.

Thirty two companies initially submitted 111 proposals several months ago. The utility then re-opened the bidding process and expected to make a decision by Sept. 1. Even as CPS Energy zeroed in on two finalists, Lewis said, other companies around the globe approached the utility with their own ideas and CPS Energy officials decided to end negotiations and open a third round of bidding after rewriting the specifications of what it wants.

So the problem lies not with no takers, but with many and new ideas coming forward to possibly make this move by San Antonio more profitable.  What this Central Texas metroplex does with this process could set the trend for the country and remains an experiment to watch.

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According to the Texas Energy Report, Senate Natural Resources Committee Chairman Troy Fraser, called the energy industry a bit too “thirsty” during a record one-year drought, and warned the oil and gas companies to ramp up the recycling of water consumed during hydraulic fracturing.

Currently much of the chemical-laced water and sand that Texas companies blast into shale formations to release oil and gas is later pumped back underground for disposal.

“It’s going to be an issue next session. I continue to tell the industry they’ve got to get aggressive about water reuse,” Fraser, a Republican from Horseshoe Bay in the Central Texas Highland Lakes region, said during a joint interim hearing on drought held by the Natural Resources and the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committees.

“In a drought situation, it’s starting to be a problem, a big problem in some areas,” Fraser added of the millions of gallons of water used in fracking. “I’ve been projecting for multiple months that this is coming and we’ve got a crisis out there.”

When asked about the water recovery program and how much water is being recovered from fracking, the industry representative responded that he did not have a specific number of how many companies recycle frack water but added that TXOGA has requested data from its members. He noted that while some companies do have significant recovery operations, others do not.

“Significant,”said Fraser. “That implies a lot.”  But the numbers from the industry were not there to back that implication up.

Fraser said he’d like to see more efficient water reclamation by cities, manufacturers and refiners as well, but he also took aim at the electric power industry.

“Long-term the power industry is going to hear me talking about figuring out a way to convert and get that technology,” he said. “We can’t continue to use the amount of water that we’ve used in the past. The way we are treating our water right now is not sustainable.”

John Fainter, president of the Association of Electric Companies of Texas, said everyone in the state needs to learn more and do more about conserving and saving and reusing water, but he added a threat of his own.  “There is a cost, and the public needs to be aware of that, just like the environmental requirements we’re facing,” he said.

Click here to watch the hearing.

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The worst drought in more than 50 years in Texas is expected to continue as a weak La Nina weather pattern is predicted to strengthen this winter.  Drought has already reduced cooling water needed by coal-fired power plants and may limit electric output from power plants next summer, an official from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT – the grid operator)  reported.

At this time, only one small generating unit is currently curtailed due to a lack of adequate cooling water, however a continuation of the severe drought in Texas could result in as much as 3,000 MW being unavailable next summer, Kent Saathoff, vice president of ERCOT grid operations told the board last week.

The drought has lowered the water level at nearly every reservoir in the state, according to the Texas Water Development Board. A lack of cooling water limits the ability of a power plant to operate at full capacity.

Texas’ hottest summer on record pushed power consumption to record levels, straining the state’s electric resources on many days in August.

Grid officials and lawmakers are worried that the drought will compound existing issues that impact the state’s power supply: looming environmental regulations that will curtail output from coal-fired power plants and a lack of new power-plant investment.

ERCOT predicts about 434 megawatts would be unavailable next summer if Texas gets about half its normal rainfall over the winter and spring months and if there is no significant rainfall, as much as 3,000 MW could be unavailable by May.

Power plant owners are taking steps to increase access to cooling water by increasing pumping capacity, adding pipelines to alternate water sources and securing additional water rights.  Some water authorities have already curtailed new “firm” water contracts, so it may be harder for plants to secure additional water.

Right now, the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC) is working to implement new energy efficiency legislation.  If we just used our energy more efficiently, we wouldn’t have come so close to a grid crisis even under the extreme circumstances of this past summer.  Other states have used energy efficiency to keep the lights on for their families and businesses when they were having problems by cutting energy demand by 20% or more on the hottest days of the summer.
Studies have shown that Texas could cut 23% of our peak energy use on the hottest days and it would be cheaper than generating electricity.
To prevent rolling blackouts next summer, the governor and the PUC could improve the energy efficiency and market-based conservation programs that will keep our air conditioning running on hot summer days and keep our local  businesses operating . 

The Texas Public Utility Commission should:

  • Reward utilities that exceed their energy efficiency goals.
  • Use the money from a program set up to provide utility assistance for eligible Texans that is funded by fee Texans pay on their electric bills every month for the weatherization of low-income homes.

And the governor can issue an executive order that requires all state agencies, schools, municipal and county governments to reduce energy use by 5% next summer and report their savings to the state.

You can email the governor and express your opinion by clicking here.

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