October 5, 2023

Summer 2023: the bad, the ugly and the spectacularly good

by Patrice 'Pete' Parsons, TXSES Executive Director

They say this one is in the record books. Just ask John Nielsen-Gammon, the Texas climatologist. Gammon says 2023 was the second hottest ever, averaging 85.3 degrees between June and August. In case you forgot, 2011 brought home the gold with an average temperature of 86.8 degrees. Still, this summer logged in some respectable numbers, like Austin with the most 105+ degree days (40) and most consecutive triple-digit days (45), ending on August 21. This summer also included 10 all-time records for demand, like on September 6 when ERCOT declared an Energy Emergency Alert Level 2 (EEA 2), meaning ERCOT could initiate controlled outages if demand wasn’t reduced or generators couldn’t provide more juice. On September 7, ERCOT issued yet another conservation appeal citing continued high temperatures, high demand, low wind and declining solar power generation into the afternoon and evening hours. The PUC press release on September 7 reiterated ERCOT’s rationale for conservation, citing low wind and declining solar power generation.

The Summer of 2023

Transmission, not Renewables, to Blame for Texas' Summer Energy Woes

By Ethan Miller, TXSES Intern and Patrice 'Pete' Parsons, Executive Director

Being blamed for problems you didn’t cause is frustrating and can even be grounds for defamation. For the Texas renewables industry, it’s just another day. On September 6, the Electric Reliability Grid of Texas (ERCOT) issued an Energy Emergency Alert Level 2 (EEA 2). An EEA 2 allows ERCOT to use power outages during peak demand to conserve electricity and protect the grid. ERCOT avoided outages this time, but they’re becoming a frequent occurrence in the state; outages averaged 3 hours per capita in 2013. By 2021, it was 19.6 hours per capita, a 533% increase.

Transmission not renewables

TXSES Talks Distributed Solar Energy at Bluebonnet Energy Fair

By Steven Ùgalde, Membership & Marketing Outreach Coordinator

As the Texas distributed solar industry continues to expand, TXSES is thrilled to witness proactive initiatives by providers like Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative. This past weekend, they hosted the Bluebonnet Energy Expo, and TXSES was prominently present. Executive Director Pete Parsons and I had the opportunity to educate visitors about solar energy and offer recommendations for reliable installers.

TXSES at Bluebonnet Energy Fair

Did you know you can support the environment through workplace giving? 🤔 You can designate individual organizations like (ahem) Texas Solar Energy Society or let EarthShare Texas divide it equally among their 35+ participating organizations. Find a complete list of Earth Share Texas' current member charities and their campaign codes here. Please consider TXSES in your workplace giving program!

Campaign season for planned giving

TXSES Business Members!

Different levels of business memberships are an integral part of TXSES’ overall mission. They lend their voices and expertise educating Texans about the benefits of solar energy, separating fact from fiction. They serve on committees, are a strong presence at fundraising events and understand the bigger, more complete picture of TXSES’ statewide impact. Support from our generous solar business community enables TXSES to continue to lead the transition to a solar energy reality, helping them meet the ever-changing challenges facing the distributed solar industry.

TXSES is a hub for solar professionals and businesses involved in public affairs and government relations. We offer networking and training opportunities for our business members to interact with thought leaders, gain valuable knowledge and build essential relationships within the industry. As a business member, you will have a voice in making sure Texas has favorable policies to build a strong, sustainable solar industry!c

Interested in becoming our newest business member? Contact Steven Ùgalde, Marketing and Membership Coordinator, at sugalde@txses.org.

Breaking state and national clean energy headlines

ERCOT calls on a shuttered CPS coal plant and others as a possible Texas grid winter power lifeline

As it tries to find another 3,000 megawatts of power for its winter reserves, ERCOT is looking specifically to CPS Energy’s decommissioned J.T. Deely Power Plant, keeping a Denton plant owned by Garland Power & Light open over the winter and stepping up the use of demand-response conservation programs among its list of possible sources.

San Antonio Express-News 10/3/23 

Storm-Caused Energy Price Hikes to Go Before Texas Supreme Court

The Texas Supreme Court will review a lower court’s ruling that the state’s Public Utility Commission of Texas overstepped its authority during a 2021 winter storm by raising electricity prices to the maximum rate. During extreme weather, the state, through the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, sets the cost of electricity higher to incentivize production. The high court set oral arguments on Friday for January 30, 2024.

Bloomberg Law 10/03/23


Meeting emergency power needs with renewable microgrids

During Winter Storm Uri, across Houston, H.E.B.'s supermarkets stayed operational because they had implemented microgrids through Enchanted Rock. The company's microgrid ensured accessibility to essentials and services for locals. Citizens Medical Center in Victoria, Texas — a 338-bed medical facility specializing in trauma care, cancer care and rehabilitation — also successfully kept itself up and running thanks to a microgrid commissioned after Hurricane Harvey.

Renewable Energy Magazine 10/01/23

Renewable power helped the US survive the hottest summer ever

Texas produces more wind power than any other state, but this summer, it was solar that stole the show. The state produced twice as much solar power as last year, according to Dr. Joshua Rhodes, a research scientist with the Webber Energy Group Group at The University of Texas at Austin. On August 10, wind and solar energy generated enough power to meet 25% of demand during the peak hour of usage, according to ERCOT.

CleanTechnica 9/30/23

PV industry should focus on virtual power plants says US official

Because a solar-plus-storage system with those features can earn its owner compensation through participation in a virtual power plant (VPP) – an aggregation of similar systems often managed by a third-party aggregator – Shah encouraged the solar industry to see its future in VPPs. Besides distributed storage, other distributed energy resources that can be aggregated into a VPP include electric vehicle chargers, smart thermostats, and smart electric water heaters.

PV Magazine Australia 9/29/23

In summer heat, ‘artificial shortages’ in Texas grid may have cost $8 billion

Energy experts and analysts said the state’s market operator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, essentially withheld electricity supply from the market to create the reserve, which had the effect of pushing up prices.

New York Times 9/26/23


Monster fracks are getting far bigger. And far thirstier

Fracking wells have increased their water usage sevenfold since 2011 as operators have adopted new techniques to first drill downward and then horizontally for thousands of feet. The process extracts more fossil fuels but requires enormous amounts of water. Together, oil and gas operators reported using about 1.5 trillion gallons of water since 2011, much of it from aquifers, the Times found. Fracking a single oil or gas well can now use as much as 40 million gallons of water or more. These mega-fracking projects, called “monster fracks” by researchers, have become the industry norm. They barely existed a decade ago. Now they account for almost two out of every three fracking wells in Texas, the Times analysis found.

New York Times 9/25/23


Bitcoin miners double down on efficiency and renewable energy at the World Digital Summit

Sustainable development in the mining industry was a core theme discussed in a majority of the panels at the WDMS. In the opening roundtable, team members from Terrawulf, Core Scientific, CleanSpark and Iris Energy shared their perspectives on how further integration of renewable energy sources will become a critical strategy to implement for many miners after the April 2024 Bitcoin supply halving.

cointelegraph.com 9/23/23


Energy Department to invest in renewable energy battery technology

The Energy Department has announced a $325 million investment in new battery types that can help turn solar and wind energy into 24-hour power.

The funds will be distributed among 15 projects in 17 states and the Red Lake Nation, a Native American tribe based in Minnesota.

NEWSnet/AP 9/22/23


Fixing Interconnection

In the U.S., it takes power generators four years on average to get approval to connect to the grid, and in some places, it takes far longer. In the Texas electricity market, it takes only about 1.5 years between interconnection request and agreement. And it costs way less to interconnect in the Lone Star State, too. So what does Texas know about interconnection that the rest of the U.S. doesn’t? And how could other states learn from Texas?

Canary Media 9/21/23


The Texas power grid is still vulnerable to extreme weather events

Transmission bottlenecks were a problem in 2021 and again this summer. Natural gas and coal plants didn’t perform as expected two years ago or again this summer. Renewable energy on the Texas grid has kept prices from further soaring and added much-needed capacity that got the state through most of the blistering hot summer. Texas must become energy smarter.

Dallas Morning News (Opinion) 9/21/23


Biden-Harris launches The American Climate Corps

The American Climate Corps will put a new generation of Americans to work conserving our lands and waters, bolstering community resilience, advancing environmental justice, deploying clean energy, implementing energy-efficient technologies, and tackling climate change. American Climate Corps members will gain the skills necessary to access good-paying jobs that are aligned with high-quality employment opportunities after they complete their paid training or service program.

The White House 9/20/23

For nearly 50 years, TXSES has been the pre-eminent statewide organization that creates and disseminates quality, fact-based solar information for every Texas community. TXSES reaches and teaches thousands of Texans annually through multi-faceted education and outreach strategies that include traditional and social media, events and one-on-one engagement with decision-makers.

Public and private funds are needed to continue doing what we've done for more than four decades, delivering the kinds of resources and successes you've come to expect from us. Truth is, you make what we do possible.

Join us in our mission to make clean energy more inclusive, accessible and affordable by making a tax-deductible contribution to TXSES.
About TXSES: A membership-based non-profit 501(c)(3) organization for nearly 40 years, TXSES’s unique niche is exemplified in our well-established local chapters in Austin, Dallas, El Paso, Houston and San Antonio. Having boots on the ground in these major metropolitan cities, which represent nearly a quarter of Texas’s 29 million citizens, enables our gifted, dedicated members to disseminate fact-based, relevant solar information to all Texans. www.txses.org
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