Today, the Texas House of Representatives will vote on HB 1607 to expediate construction of transmission lines. Environment Texas partnered with the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club to write a factsheet in support of the bill.
Wind and solar energy and battery storage are clean, affordable and quick to deploy. They’re booming in Texas, which is great news for our air and climate, as well as for ratepayers. However, constraints in transmission are already impacting their ability to get their power to market, and putting further constraints on their growth.
In an open-access market like ERCOT, renewable energy and storage facilities can be built relatively quickly - usually in less than a year. But the transmission planning and approval process in Texas is outdated and cannot keep pace, and wind and solar power are already being impacted.
As a result, ERCOT has implemented Generic Transmission Constraints (GTCs) or limits on generation output so that transmission lines don’t exceed their capacity. During the February blackouts, transmission constraints led ERCOT to curtail production from renewables-rich south Texas and the panhandle, preventing badly needed energy from reaching homes at a cost to consumers of $500 million.
In fact, without changes in our process, ERCOT has estimated that by 2035 they will need to restrict output from West Texas solar and wind farms one third of the time because of constraints. That means higher costs to ratepayers, more air pollution, more water use and less jobs.
HB 1607 directs ERCOT and the PUCT, working with ERCOT stakeholders, to deploy on an expedited basis transmission infrastructure identified in the Long-Term System Assessment that will greatly reduce or eliminate GTCs, and lead to more transmission to bring power to loads.