ROCKWALL COUNTY, TX (Nov. 22, 2022) A year ago last February, we here in the North Dallas area experienced almost a day and a half without electrical power. No electricity for lights, heat, entertainment, running of essential equipment, or power to run our ever-present battery chargers for our cell phones! Not only we in North Texas suffered this power outage, but 69% of all Texans experienced the same issue. A total of 210 deaths resulted along with an estimated $10.3 billion in damages.
Broken water pipes with flooded homes; deaths; loss of work; and trust in our government to provide a basic essential of life, were some of the consequences of this failure of our electrical grid system here in Texas.
So, what’s it going to be like this winter after all the promises we have heard from Austin?
In 2021, the year of the failure, Texas had an estimated population of 29.5 million people; 4 million added in the last decade. 88% of these people are concentrated in the state’s largest metropolitan areas. Last year alone, 63 companies announced plans to move their headquarters here. The demand for energy will continue to expand.
One of the limiting characteristics of electricity is that it needs to be used when it is produced as it cannot be easily stored.
Our electrical grid, managed by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), currently consists of 1,030 generating units and 53,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines. In 2021, 44% of our total electricity capacity was generated by natural gas, 29% by wind, 19% by coal, 10% by nuclear, 4% by solar and the other 5% by other sources. Unfortunately, in February of last year the maintenance on most of these sources was deficient thus causing the resultant power outage.
Because of the high concentration of population in the larger cities, unfortunately there are not enough transmission lines to move all the wind and solar generated electricity to all the customers that need it. And since it may take up to eight to ten years to build these lines, increasing the production capability of the energy producers is not the easy answer to solving the grid needs.
Texas has enormous potential for energy production (according to Comptroller of Texas Fiscal Notes) and electricity generation, but increased investment in the state’s electricity infrastructure, including transmission lines, is critical.
Since 2006, the state of Texas and the federal government have spent over $26 billion to subsidize wind and solar operators. This has resulted in Texas depending more and more on alternative forms of energy. Unfortunately, we found last February that these forms of energy are not reliable for consistent production of electricity.
To effectively fix our energy grid it will be necessary to ensure that the grid is supported by sufficient production from natural gas, clean coal, and nuclear sources, all of which can be relied upon. In addition, sufficient transmission facilities must be available to transport the power where it is needed. The grid can be supplemented with the electricity generated by wind and solar, but not relied upon as the major providers of electricity.
Unfortunately, while the demand for electricity will not decrease because of the increase in population and companies moving to Texas, another significant user of electricity is starting to poke its head around the corner demanding electricity. That being the electric automobile…and soon electric trucks. If you remember, just this last summer, Tesla, a major producer of electric automobiles, urged their customers to not charge their vehicles during the summer days when the demand for electricity was high.
In addition to the Tesla company, many of the other automobile manufacturers have announced that by 2030, they will only be making electric vehicles. Then look at the demand on our electrical grid!!
This is an area that our representatives in Austin, Bob Hall and Justin Holland, must focus. Add this to the list of ”Property Tax reduction” and the repeal of that bad “Annexation Law” that is limiting our cities growth, to their list of important issues to the citizens of Rockwall County. It is time for something positive to come out of Austin on these three major subjects and it really is time for these two representatives to prove we elected the right people.
Submitted Letter to the Editor/Guest Column contributed by Jerry Hogan, a former Rockwall County Judge. He can be reached at email@example.com or 214-394-4033.
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