Texas: We won't be able to "keep the lights on"

We’ve done more than enough coverage of the new EPA cross-state emission rules set to take effect in January which aims to limit greenhouse gas production. Unfortunately, its sponsors didn’t seem to take into account the effect this would have on major energy producers in other states. One of the ones most likely to be hit hard is Texas, and they’ve taken notice. The non-partisan Electric Reliability Council of Texas has put out what amounts to a distress signal. (Emphasis mine.)

This is one of those cases where we believe it is our role to voice our concern that Texas could face a shortage of generation necessary to keep the lights on in Texas within a few years, if the EPA’s Cross-State Rule is implemented as written.

ERCOT’s May11 report to the Public Utility Commission on the impact of the proposed environmental regulations did not address the impact of SO2 restrictions on coal plants in ERCOT because these restrictions on Texas were not included as part of the EPA’s earlier rule proposal.

The group words their letter in the politest way possible, but the underlying message is clear. When these rules go into effect, a significant number of coal plants are either going to shut down – long term or permanently – and/or have to raise their utility rates dramatically to pay for these renovations which were sprung on them with virtually no notice. Other options include importing more electricity from out of state, but that again drives up costs and puts additional strain on the delivery infrastructure.

If this plan was to be adopted at all (and that’s a big “if”) the states needed a lot more time to study the long term effects and comment on it. That wasn’t done here. It was rushed through and now it looks like Texas homeowners need to be ready to foot the bill for this in a big way this winter.