Lone Star state's electricity up for grabs?

Print
Email
|

by Brad Woodard / 11 News

khou.com

Posted on August 27, 2010 at 9:41 PM

HOUSTON -- They call us the Lone Star State for a reason.  Historically, Texas has been known to go it alone, forging its own path in a quest for self sufficiency.  The same holds true when it comes to electricity.

"It's a $20 billion dollar plus market right in the state of Texas alone.  It's huge." said State Rep. Sylvester Turner of Houston.

In the United States there are just three energy grids.  There's the eastern interconnection and the western interconnection.  Then there's Texas interconnection operated by ERCOT, The Electric Reliability Council of Texas.

A recent report by the Texas Tribune focuses on a new project that would interlink all three grids.  Called Tres Amigas, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has given preliminary thumbs up to the project.  It's potentially good news for consumers in Texas, which is considered a high-cost energy state.

"So if we connect to this grid, this national sort of grid, you're talking about bring low cost energy to a state where we're paying high.  Many would argue that would help drive down the high cost of electricity," said Turner, who sits on a committee that oversees utility maters in the state. 

There is a potential downside.  He says it might be difficult to recoup the substantial investment we've made in generating wind power.

"Texas right now is a major generator of wind power," Turner said.  "So if you open up the grid, then places like California would come in and sift out that power, and the wind power would be going outside the state of Texas."

Before the project can go ahead, ERCOT must evaluate whether it could harm the grid.  While state regulators have no power to veto the project, they can still make it very difficult.

Print
Email
|