Energy & Technology

Texas Legislature Implements Reforms to Improve Electric Grid System

electric grid

As the second most populous state in the United States, Texas has seen a significant increase in its population in recent years, with over 500,000 people relocating to the Lone Star state in 2022 alone, bringing the total population to over 30 million. One of the reasons for this influx of people is the state’s thriving business atmosphere, with Texas boasting a gross domestic product (GDP) of $1.9 trillion in 2022, a 2.4% increase from the previous year. This growth is largely driven by the oil and natural gas industry, which accounted for 44% of the state’s GDP increase.

Despite the favorable weather conditions in Texas, extreme temperatures and weather conditions can cause issues for the state’s electric grid. In February 2021, a record cold wave caused temperatures to drop below freezing for a week, leading to a shortage of electricity. Similarly, during the summer months, electricity usage peaks as temperatures rise.

To address the growing demand for safe, reliable, and affordable electricity, the Texas legislature is implementing changes to the state’s electric grid. In January, the Public Utility Council approved a plan aimed at obligating electricity companies to provide power to consumers primarily during times of extremely high demand and maximum capacity. However, some members of the Texas legislature are concerned about the potential cost of this plan during peak demand periods and its reliability, as it is a new concept with an unproven track record.

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To address these concerns, a group of state senators, with the support of Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, introduced nine bills aimed at enhancing the power sources of the electric grid in Texas. Senate Bill 6, in particular, focuses on putting new infrastructure in place to ensure that more electrons are flowing during critical times, while also supporting and maintaining current dispatchable generation sources.

Dispatchable generation refers to the types of energy sources available for usage and their reliability during critical times. While wind and solar energy have been on the rise, the sponsors of the bills believe that natural gas and coal are more dependable energy sources. Natural gas production has seen significant gains in Texas and across the country, with Texas production increasing to 30,970 million cubic feet per day in 2022, and the United States production rising 4.8% to 118,823 million cubic feet per day. In Texas, natural gas generates 49% of the state’s electricity, and the state has become a major exporter of liquefied natural gas, with exports increasing by 14% in 2022.

Texas has a variety of energy sources at its disposal, from the sun and wind to natural gas and petroleum, which are essential to the state’s thriving economy. However, as the state’s population and economic activity continue to grow, it is crucial that policymakers ensure that the electric grid can meet the demand for safe, reliable, and affordable electricity. The proposed bills aim to do just that, by enhancing the state’s power sources and ensuring that more electrons are flowing during critical times. By doing so, Texas can continue to be a leader in the energy industry while also ensuring that its residents have access to the electricity they need.

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