A growing Texas must keep power grid humming, and green energy is not the enemy

A growing Texas must keep power grid humming, and green energy is not the enemy

By Carlton Schwab | Februrary 23, 2023

Fort Worth Star-Telegram

It’s hard to believe it’s been two years since the deadly Winter Storm Uri swept through Texas and left the energy grid minutes away from total collapse. Millions were left without heat and power for days, more than 200 precious lives were lost and now, consumers are footing the bill and seeing increases in utility costs every month.

Suffice it to say, the storm exposed the power grid’s weaknesses, and lawmakers have been working since to prevent another devastating weather disaster from leaving Texans cold and in the dark.

As a result, a handful of bipartisan laws have been passed in the Texas Legislature, new capacity was added to the grid, and state funds were used to enhance the Public Utility Commission and other regulatory response related to oversight of ERCOT activities to improve electric grid reliability.

While lawmakers deserve credit where credit is due, there is more they can do to ensure Texas is set up for success should a major freeze devastate communities again.

In addition to the repercussions listed above, the storm also caused a major blow to our state’s economy. According to Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar, the storm resulted in between $80 and $130 billion in losses to the state economy. Supply chains suffered from more disruptions, ranchers saw $228 million in losses, and producers lost more than 60 percent of their crops.

Joshua Rhodes, a professor of energy resources at the University of Texas at Austin said that had the grid continued to decline that fateful week, “Texas manufacturing would likely have come to a halt and its ripple effects would’ve affected the state’s GDP in a major way.” 

It’s no surprise that Texas is an economic powerhouse. Our population has surpassed 30 million, and our economy is now the ninth-largest in the world — an economy that should be protected from a natural disaster. And as Texas continues to grow, so will the demand on our power grid. 

No matter what side of the political aisle you sit on, the truth is that our state would benefit from tapping into a variety of resources — wind, solar, and gas — to keep the lights on. If more renewable energy will help protect the grid, and our $2 trillion economy, why not take advantage? 

Yes, Texas’ energy sector is the best in the world, and the industry remains a backbone to our economic success. However, as we reflect on the second anniversary of the winter storm, lawmakers should acknowledge that green energy resources are not the enemy and that we need every kilowatt we can get.

As Forbes columnist David Blackmon recently said: “To keep growing in the prosperous and sustainable way it has enjoyed in recent years, Texas will need it all.”