Texas’ February winter weather emergency dominated energy news nationwide. Now it’s dominating proposals in the Texas legislature. Following historic electricity outages, it’s no surprise grid reliability issues have come to the forefront of lawmakers’ priority list, with proposed legislation focusing on everything from distributed energy resources to various commission reforms. We turned to AEE’s PowerSuite to parse out which bills at play in the Lone Star State are generating the most buzz and share the measures we’re keeping our eyes on.
After Grid Outages from Winter Storms, the Texas Legislature Faces a Blizzard of Bills. Here’s How to Track Them.
Texas is in the midst of a severe and historic winter weather event, which has led to the worst outages the state has experienced in decades. With over 4 million Texans losing power, all eyes are on the state’s grid manager and market operator, Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), and market participants like power plant owners and operators, demand side resources, and other grid assets as they work around the clock to restore the grid to normal operating conditions. Defenders of the energy status quo are also using the occasion to cast doubt on advanced energy technologies – especially wind power, on which Texas is a national leader. But they’ve got it exactly backwards. The troubles in Texas point to the need for more advanced energy, not less.
Over the summer, headlines proclaimed the news that Tesla, the global leader in electric vehicles (EVs), had decided to locate its next U.S. factory in Austin. Recently, Tesla’s famed founder, Elon Musk, even announced that he would be moving to Texas himself. None of this should come as a surprise. Texas has long been a leader in energy of all sorts, including advanced energy technologies like wind and solar power, so it’s only natural to add EVs to the mix. "Everything's bigger in Texas, and that includes Tesla," said Gov. Greg Abbott in a video interview posted to Twitter. “Tesla is moving here because of the free market principles that allow it to come here and be an innovator without government dictates… Texas will be number one in energy, including clean energy.” By welcoming Tesla, Texas has earned a place at the forefront of the forthcoming electric transportation revolution – and a new analysis shows Tesla could be just the start.
TAEBA members hold a virtual meeting with Rep. Four Price, a candidate for re-election to the Texas House of Representatives, top left.
Texas is the national leader in energy. As the undisputed leader in wind generating capacity with an interconnection queue stacked with almost exclusively wind, solar, and energy storage, and with billions of market potential available for distributed energy resources such as solar, demand response, storage, and electric vehicles, advanced energy is poised to play a key role in accelerating economic recovery, building a more resilient Texas, fostering market competition, and lowering customer electricity bills. Next year, as in all odd-numbered years, the Texas Legislature will meet for 140 days starting on the second Tuesday in January to consider the state’s regular business. The Texas Advanced Energy Business Alliance (TAEBA) will be actively engaged in the legislative session, working to expand opportunities for advanced energy in 2021. But we recognize that policymakers need to learn more about the many benefits advanced energy can bring to Texas – and the best time to educate them is when they’re running for office.
By now, it is no secret that distributed energy resources (DERs), including rooftop solar, energy storage, customer-owned generation, demand response, electric vehicles, and energy efficiency can save Texas billions of dollars over the coming years. A report published by Texas Advanced Energy Business Alliance (TAEBA) showed that DERs could deliver $5.47 billion of value over 10 years by prolonging the use of existing, functional utility infrastructure and by better integrating DERs into electricity markets. But the value of DERs is not just in the future. Rather, DERs are already providing Texas businesses and Texas residents with many benefits, including reliability, resilience, and cost savings. Read on for five examples of DERs currently at work in the Lone Star State.