The contribution of renewable energy powering Texas through a deadly heat dome in late June reached an all-time high of almost 42 percent, but a recent report found the state’s transmission infrastructure can’t handle the full load renewables can generate.
Texas, however, is not alone. Much of the U.S. power grid is susceptible to congestion, according to the June 2023 report, Transmission Planning and Development Regional Report Card (PDF) from the nonprofit Americans for a Clean Energy Grid.
The purpose of the report is “to show that good performance is possible and achievable, and all regions can improve to reach an ‘A’ grade in the coming years,” the executive summary states.
Texas, in fact, generates more power from renewables than any other state, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Yet the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which manages the state’s flow of electricity, wasted nearly $3 billion in lost energy due to insufficient infrastructure, the ACEG report found. Its report found an “almost doubling of congestion” on ERCOT’s grid from 2020 to 2021.
Again, Texas is not alone. The ACEG report notes:
One of the trends among the more quantitative metrics – transmission capacity available for new resources, congestion, and miles of new transmission built in recent years – is that performance is declining across all regions. Congestion is rising, delays and costs for interconnecting new projects are increasing, and very little new high-capacity transmission is being built.
While other states share regional power grids, Texas notably has its own — and it gained international attention when its grid failed during the 2021 deadly polar vortex. An investigative journalism report by The Texas Tribune and ProPublica linked the grid failure to deregulation. Some 4.5 million customers across the state were without power for days, and dozens of deaths initially were linked to the power outage.
You can urge local officials and your Congressional delegation to enact policies and pass laws to help fix the U.S. grid, even at your local level.
Related: All climate change is local