Include cost of emissions
In all proposed solutions to grid enhancement that conclude only fossil energy should be considered, there is never an analysis including the costly emissions associated with that decision. This is especially problematic for Texas, already the greatest polluter of all American states.
According to U.S. Energy Information Administration data for 2019, Texas emitted 683.2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, 23.6 tons per capita. California was second with 358.2 million, 9.1 tons per capita. Given a Social Cost of Carbon of $185/ton of CO2, Texas incurred $126.4 billion for 2019 and paid nothing. This fossil fuel subsidy amounted to $4,360 per Texas citizen.
A good analysis to provide a clear understanding of the Public Utility Commission of Texas proposal impact should consider the February 2021 fiasco. How many natural gas dispatchable units would have been required, at what cost, how many hours and when would they have been required throughout 2021, and how many tons of CO2 would they have added to the atmosphere?
Most likely, considerations of cost, emissions, global warming and climate change will not matter as long as Gov. Greg Abbott receives contributions from the energy industry.
James Moffitt, Lewisville
Give good energy information
If wind energy and solar energy are so reliable, why are people lining up to buy diesel-powered generators? No long lines at the solar or windmill aisle. Put the facts out in black and white. What does each cost without subsidy? I can’t find anyone that will do that.
I’m curious about the cost to make and install wind turbines, what the leased land costs, expected useful life, annual maintenance and payback. With and without subsidies. Same for solar. Same for nuclear, coal and gas. Same for electric cars.
My guess is nuclear and natural gas are the way to go. Solar and wind are a great offset, but I don’t think I want to rely on them in a crisis. An electric car around town may make sense. They are not going to help the grid. If solar and wind and electric vehicles are the best, why do we subsidize them?
When the government artificially stimulates or punishes with taxation or regulation or printing money or raising interest rates, this is what creates crisis. Give the people good information, remove government intervention and people will vote with their dollars. Industry will provide based on demand at a competitive price.
Frank Wagnon, Southlake
Support PUC’s reliability plan
Please support the Public Utility Commission of Texas proposal for reliability.
The performance credit mechanism, the plan proposed by the PUC, is needed to support the investment in new dispatchable generation. The competitive energy market can continue with less scarcity events that threaten businesses and households with dangerous outages.
Each retail provider (load serving entity) will be required to provide dispatchable generation plus reserves on a prorated basis to provide competitive equity. Also, each load serving entity will be required to demonstrate performance through actual operation of the generation at times of maximum demand.
This is not new. Regulated utilities have provided proven capacity plus reserves since the beginning of transmission interconnected operations.
What is new? It is the deregulated market in Texas, which should now require the load serving entities to provide capacity plus reserves for reliability. The PCM will do that if properly implemented.
The cost of new generation will be paid by new and existing customers within an expanded rate base like always. It has been estimated to cost 2%.
This is my understanding of the proposal. I am the retired general manager of the Greenville Electric Utility System and a former ERCOT board member. My comments are my own without affiliation.
Thomas L. Darte, Greenville
Plants need backup capacity
I like the fact that Gov. Greg Abbott backs the ERCOT proposal to revamp the power grid by implementing a “performance credit mechanism.” The 2% increase in cost is well worth it to increase the gas-fired generation capacity. This increased capacity is mainly needed when solar and wind are not fully contributing and would not be profitable to the power companies if not for this credit.
However, I think the proposal is short in not demanding the power companies design their new plants (and retrofitting some older ones) to run on diesel as well as natural gas, or have gas stored on site utilizing mini-liquefied natural gas plants.
If we want to avoid another winter catastrophe, the gas-fired plants need better backup fuel capability.
William Pritchard, Farmers Branch
Our costs go up again
Re: “Commissioners OK overhaul — PUC proposal based on new construct shifts costs to consumers, critics say,” Jan. 20 news story.
Well, electric ratepayers of Texas, you just got your pocket picked again. If you thought that the bonds to save the electric providers that you get to pay off for the next 30 years were bad, you’re going to love this. The Public Utility Commission of Texas just bucked its own paid consultant, ERCOT’s independent market monitor and state senators on a plan to supposedly encourage new natural gas power plants that most experts say will instead shift “costs and risk onto consumers while doing little to encourage the construction of coveted natural gas-fired power plants.”
Folks, Texas is the perfect example of the definition of insanity if it means that if you keep electing the same legislators over and over again but expect different outcomes. This plan will add another 2% to your electric bill. Let’s hear it for deregulation!
Gaylard French, Waxahachie
Reduce need for fossil fuels
Gov. Greg Abbott is wrong. The Texas electricity grid does not need more methane-fired power plants. Our planet’s future and our own well-being are already in peril. U.S. greenhouse gas emissions increased last year. They should be going down, not up. And, our ever-hotter atmosphere plays a disastrous part in the catastrophic weather events of 2022. From flooding to wildfires, costs were an astounding $165B.
The grid needs more of what our state has in abundance: renewable, affordable and clean wind and solar power. Build transmission lines and battery storage, and reduce the need for destructive and expensive fossil fuels. Incentivize residential solar installations and community mini-grids. The sun and wind are free.
Renewable energy is a smart investment in a livable future for all of us.
Ed Soph, Denton
Address nuclear reactor risks
Re: “Natural gas plants right move,” by Robert Smith, Jan. 9 Letters.
There should never be a discussion of nuclear reactors that doesn’t address the risk of radiation escaping its bounds. Even well-functioning reactors release radiation, though only in amounts considered safe. When an incident occurs, the expected consequences worsen — from bad to catastrophic.
Technological advances promise to make nuclear incidents less likely, or at least mitigate their harm, but there is no corresponding advancement in dealing with nuclear waste.
Smith is a proponent of small nuclear reactors. But, a recent study finds that SNRs will actually generate more radioactive waste than conventional nuclear power plants. The same study says that the most highly radioactive waste, primarily spent fuel, must be isolated in deep-mined geologic repositories for hundreds of thousands of years. (Others say that the time frame should be extended up to a million years!)
Since no site or material can be relied on to keep high-level waste contained for so long, it will be shockingly shortsighted to build new reactors (of whatever type) and add to the existing volume. There’s no responsible justification for it. There’s only the hope and a prayer that a solution will be found.
Joan R. Susman, North Dallas
Renewables can’t stand alone
Re: “Legislators can’t ignore renewable energy — Clean power sources save Texans $1 billion per month,” by Colin Leyden, Jan. 15 Opinion.
Renewable energy already gets massive government subsidies and tax credits. Without these funds to prop them up, wind and solar wouldn’t be economically competitive. But Leyden lobbies for even more.
Leyden cites the “deadly winter blackout of 2021″ as a noteworthy example of renewable energy’s value. But in fact wind and solar sources were virtually nonexistent in that crisis! Only the reliability of natural gas, coal and nuclear power saved Texas from total grid failure.
In addition to unreliability, renewables have low capacity factors — less than a third of the time. And they are least reliable during heat and cold extremes, when they are needed most.
The frequent claim of utilizing battery storage for renewables is a mirage. It would substantially raise costs, reduce energy efficiency, and tie up scarce essential materials needed for other useful applications.
If renewable energy saves us money, why can’t it stand on its own?
Robert P. Smith, Dallas/Preston Hollow
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