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O'Rourke should embrace EE

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Henry Craver's picture
Small Business Owner Self-employed

As a small business owner, I'm always trying to find ways to cut costs and boost the dependability of my services. To that end, I've become increasingly invested in learning about energy saving...

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  • Dec 6, 2021
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 Texas Democrats are taking their Republican opponents to task this election cycle on the state’s disastrous February blackout. The most high profile example of this strategy is undoubtedly in the state’s gubernatorial race, likely to end up being between Republican incumbent Greg Abott and former Democrat congressman Beto O'Rourke. 

A recent article in the Texas Tribune claims O'Rourke has coined the slogan “fix the damn grid” as a campaign priority. Yet despite plenty of vitriol flung towards Republican lawmakers, I haven’t read of any concrete plan proposed by O’Rourke. Another article on the subject that appeared in The Hill, quoted a spokesman saying the former congressman would try “securing the grid in a way that the Abbott administration has not.” That sounds like a heck of a plan. 

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Possibly, as O’Rourke’s campaign matures, he’ll take this opportunity to promote an energy efficiency plan. Energy conservation meshes nicely with O’Rourke’s progressive-light branding, and he already has all the details laid out in this study by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). 

The report lays out seven residential energy efficiency and demand response programs that could lower summer peaks by 7,650 MW and winter peaks by 11,400 MW over five years. Such peak reductions could possibly erase the need for the new gas generation plan that’s so popular right  now. ACEEE estimates its plan would cost $4.9 billion over 5 years, almost 40 percent less than the Berkshire and Starwood proposals. 

The ACEEE plan is not without its detractors. In fact, Energy Central member Robert Borlick critiqued the plan in a comment on a post I made about the paper last month: 

“I have read the ACEEE White Paper and respectfully disagree that energy efficiency will have any long-term effect on ERCOT power system reliability.  The reason is that developers will simply defer the amount of new generating capacity they will add into the ERCOT until the economically-driven reserve margin is restored.  The authors of the White Paper do not appear to understand the mechanics of how capacity is attracted to the ERCOT market through scarcity pricing.”

Even acknowledging Borlick’s points, I still think it makes a better plan than: “securing the grid in a way that the Abbott administration has not.” 

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