Energy & Environment

ERCOT: Obama’s ‘Clean Power Plan’ Will Raise Texas Electricity Prices

Officials who manage the state’s power grid say new environmental regulations could make electricity more expensive and raise the risk of shortages. The White House disagrees.

Texas has repeatedly sued to avoid having to comply with federal pollution laws. And now, officials are saying one of the latest new rules, the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan, might mean at least two coal-burning power plants in Texas would have to be shutdown.

Under the plan that starts taking effect in seven years, coal-burning plants would either have to install expensive pollution control equipment to minimize the greenhouse gases they emit, or be shut down completely.

But Texas now makes more electricity with cleaner-burning natural gas than coal and is increasingly using wind.

On a conference call with reporters, News 88.7 asked state officials at the agency that manages the state’s grid — the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) — about the effect of shutting down a couple coal plants.

“You can look at it in different ways,” said ERCOT’s director of system planning, Warren Lasher.

Lasher said energy companies might not have enough time to build new natural gas power plants or wind turbines, meaning that on the hottest days when electricity demand soars, there might be a greater risk of shortages.

“Our modeling also indicates that these changes to the grid will likely increase customer retail costs by approximately 16 percent,” Lasher said.

The Obama Administration says just the opposite, that in the long run, the plan will reduce your electric bill. And environmentalists say Texas is already well on its way to meeting the goals of the Clean Power Plan and should embrace it, not fight it.

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Dave Fehling

Director of News and Public Affairs

As Director of News and Public Affairs, Dave Fehling manages the radio news operation at Houston's NPR station. Previously, he was a reporter at the station, covering the oil & gas industry and its impact on the environment. He won top state honors for in-depth and investigative reporting as well...

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