The first power plants produced electricity mainly from coal, steam or hydroelectric power. Today, Texas continues to generate electricity from some of these traditional sources, but it is increasingly dependent on natural gas and renewable resources, mainly wind. In Texas, natural gas prices rose more than 66 percent between January and July of this year, resulting in higher utility bills for many customers across the state. During the same year, Texas was the largest producer of oil (43 percent), natural gas (25 percent) and wind electricity (26 percent) in the country.
Most power plants in Texas and around the world generate electricity using steam turbines or, more recently, combustion turbines, powered by fuels such as natural gas. Wind and solar energy are self-limited electricity generators, as they are subject to the action of Mother Nature. Wind energy tends to peak in the afternoon and early in the morning and solar energy peaks in the afternoon. Texas is also home to many of the world's largest oil services firms, such as Halliburton, Schlumberger and Dresser.
Given the state's current generation and production capacities, along with the current transmission infrastructure, it's not feasible to “flip a switch” and make the transition to 100 percent renewable energy overnight, says Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar in an editorial published in The Dallas Morning News. Proper load management ensures that consumers don't experience service interruptions or exorbitant electricity bills. Transmission lines are a vital component of the electricity market for connecting generators to consumers. Access to reliable energy sources ensures that the Texas power grid operates smoothly and continuously.
This means that you cannot export energy to states during favorable times or import electricity to compensate for losses in extreme situations. After the cold wave of December 1989 in the United States, which caused continuous blackouts and the near loss of the entire ERCOT power grid, the Texas Public Utilities Commission recommended preparing the state's energy infrastructure for winter. Germany, for example, recently announced plans to restart retired coal-fired power plants to meet demand. The Texas Interconnection is the state grid, managed by the Texas Electrical Reliability Council (ERCOT). But with all that generation capacity, if electricity can't reach the places where it's needed, it's lost.