Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday ordered the Public Utility Commission of Texas to make substantial changes in an effort to prevent power outages in the future.
Among the orders, Abbott asked the agency to: create more incentives within the Electric Reliability Council of Texas to develop and maintain sources of power such as natural gas and coal; establish a maintenance schedule for non-renewable sources of energy to prevent mechanical failures; require power generators that fail to provide power to the grid to pay for the costs of that failure ; and order ERCOT to accelerate development of transmission projects.
“The objective of these directives is to ensure that all Texans have access to reliable, safe, and affordable power,” Abbott wrote in a letter mandating the changes.
Renewable energy advocates, however, say some of the orders will subsidize the creation of more greenhouse-gas emitting power plants, which contribute to extreme weather events, and will penalize renewable sources of energy like wind and solar. Abbott’s letter specifically called for creating financial incentives for sources such as natural gas and coal while questioning the reliability of wind and solar power.
Most of the power generation that went offline in the February freeze and in June came from thermal sources, said Kay McCall, executive director of the Renewable Energy Alliance of Houston. And taxing renewables for times when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing will undermine the renewable energy industry as a whole.
“You want to solve the problem of not having enough megawatts by chasing some megawatts off the grid?” McCall said. “I don’t quite get that.”