ROCKWALL COUNTY, TX (July 25, 2022) February of 2021 saw a disaster in Texas. Each of us can easily remember what it was like to have no power for almost a day and a half: no heat, pipes freezing, lawns being destroyed, living in the dark, no TV and only portable radios. Huddled around fireplaces that could barely keep us warm.
What if it were to happen again?
Unlike the rest of the United States, Texas has an independent power grid which is totally separated from the other two US grids. As a result, our electric cost is greatly reduced over other states primarily because we have a competitive marketplace which our independent grid allows.
However, government regulations are forcing our providers to rely more and more on green energy like solar and wind power. Now about 25% of our power comes from these sources. As we saw in 2021, these sources don’t always work!
Unfortunately, the government under both Obama and Biden have continued to introduce expensive environmental regulations. These regulations have caused the price of coal to increase. At the same time, because of government subsidies, solar and wind costs are artificially lower than coal, oil, nuclear, and gas.
And it gets worse. The last major crude oil refinery built in the US was in 1977. And the oil refinery capacity in the US reached its capacity in 2020. Now any additional supply of oil, such as when it is released from the strategic oil reserves, must be sent overseas for refining!
The last nuclear power plant built in the US was in the 1990’s and currently 23 nuclear reactors in the US are in various stages of decommissioning. Over the next 10 years, about half of all coal plants are scheduled to be shut down. Reason: environmental regulations now prevent the construction and maintenance of these facilities. Some of the plants may be upgraded to natural gas or renewables and others simply shut down.
And while the ability of the grid to meet our current demand is marginal, the demand just continues to grow. How many times have you seen a TV station, daily, show the State demand curve of power versus the supply capability of the Texas grid? How many times have you seen Tesla; the major producer of electric vehicles, come out with a public announcement imploring electric vehicle owners to not charge their vehicle during the daylight hours because of the danger of the power demand exceeding the capability of the grid?
And at the same time, you continue to see more and more of the vehicle manufacturers announcing they are converting all their facilities to the production of electric vehicles. For example, Ford just recently announced that by 2030, 8 years from now, all their vehicles would be electric. GM just announced they will outsell Tesla within the next 5 years with their electric vehicles. And the trend continues!
Have you ever heard that old adage: “The Irresistible Force against the Immovable object”?
That is what we currently have. The demand is rapidly growing, and the supply is severely limited. And there does not seem to be any effort or any anyone trying to drive a solution to a problem that just continues to get bigger and bigger each day.
Just recently on the front page of the Dallas Morning News, there was a big story that an estimate to fix the power grid in Texas to meet the demand would cost $1.5 billion. Not a lot of details were given, so one could assume that at least this was a good starting point. But who is going to lead the charge?
Answer: The Texas legislation must step up and immediately address this compelling issue. Yes, it will take some political courage as there will be winners and losers in such a fix. But without quick attention, we can once again expect to see another of those gloomy days in Texas when the demand exceeds the supply, and we once again are in the dark and wondering why no one addressed the problem after what we saw in 2021.
But remember, Texas remains that shining light on the hill. Keep the Faith….even if it is getting harder to do!!
Submitted Letter to the Editor/Guest Column contributed by Jerry Hogan, a former Rockwall County Judge. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 214-394-4033.
Views expressed in Letters to the Editor are the opinion of sourced authors.