In February of this year, the state of Texas suffered a major power crisis which came about as a result of three severe winter storms. A massive electricity generation failure lead to shortages of water, food and heat, and left more than 4.5 million customers with no power. In order to prevent incidents like this in the future, on April 8th the Texas House of Representatives debated a bill that would force wind and solar plants to pay for grid services essential to keeping supply and demand in balance.
Currently, these costs fall on consumers instead of companies. The costs include mainly ancillary services which keep frequency and voltage steady whatever the supply and demand conditions. Logically, in the case of a crisis, these costs can become immensely high.
Passing this bill would be a key victory for law makers looking to slow the growth of renewable energy in Texas. Texas is among several states where Republican-controlled legislature have introduced bills that seek to add costs for renewables or support fossil fuel use. Currently, Texas provides nearly 30% of all US wind-powered electricity and is on track to become the nation’s largest provider of solar power. The legislators in Texas are currently fighting to make sure that this does not happen.
Many Wall Street companies, including Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Berkshire Hathaway Energy, Amazon and Google are trying to instigate new legislation that would “upend the economics of wind and solar power in the state,” according to the Financial Times. According to these companies, the bills “inappropriately and unfairly shift the cost,” of the ancillary services to solar and wind.
As the weeks go by, more and more bills are being passed and debated in Texas, most aimed at wind and solar farms. Even if this bill is not passed, it is likely that legislators will look for new and more inventive ways to pass the blame onto renewable energy. The only question is, is the Wall Street alliance strong enough to defend green energy in Texas? It remains to be seen what the final outcome of this battle between powerful interests will be.