TEXAS ENERGY GRID
Texas' energy grid depends on two sources: "Dispatchable" or controllable being gas, coal and nuclear, and "Intermittent" or at the whim of nature being wind and solar. While Texas is not controlled by the NERC [N. American Electric Reliability Corp. - covers most of US] its energy grid is designed to hold a similar safety margin of well under 20%. With approximately 25% of Texas' energy supply now coming from Intermittent sources, the danger should be obvious.
In February 2020, poor planning and failure to adequately protect the Dispatchable grid, coupled with forces beyond human control shutting down a major portion of the Intermittent energy grid, the loss of generating capacity exceeded the capacity safety margin, with disastrous consequences. Now, with incentives currently favoring wind and solar, the Intermittent grid is expected to grow to 50% or more of our total energy grid capacity within a few years; at that level another February 2020 or summer equivalent is guaranteed.
We must buttress Dispatchable energy generators and incentivize them to substantially increase capacity through preferential / priority purchase agreements, and/or limit supply grid dependence on Intermittent energy to no more than the margin of safety capacity for the entire system.
We need to take a hard look at nuclear energy production in Texas. There are more than 70 new idea projects in various stages ongoing across the U.S. In Texas, Westinghouse is working on a 15 megawatt portable microreactor that uses TRISO fuel pellets; uranium, carbon and oxygen fuel kernels coated in multiple layers of carbon and ceramic based materials that prevent the release of radioactive products, and which have tested impervious to the temperature extremes expected under worst case scenarios. Texas A&M University is participating with work on various components in order to develop a small demonstration unit within the next 24 months. We should work to bring more of this joint research / development to Texas.
We need to also look at the State sanctioned price gouging that occurred last February. Texas Public Utility Commission agreements then in place caused energy prices to instantly jump from approximately $30 to $9,000/MW. This would have bankrupted most of the utility providers in the system, except for Texas authorizing bonds to cover the excessive costs and now billing it back over 30 years to consumers. This incredibly short sighted and destructive policy, intended to discourage usage during heavy loads, must be terminated immediately.