Keep Texas On

Kerri Houston has a great article about the need for coal power plants in Texas.

Here are a few excerpts:

Take Texas, for example. Demographic studies predict a population increase of six million residents over the next ten years, and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas has issued a dire warning that without new power sources, capacity will drop below reliable levels in only two years.

Exponential population growth, overdependence on oil and gas, and the aging of existing energy infrastructure is a guarantee of future shortages for Texas energy consumers.

In an effort to avoid such predicted shortages, TXU — the largest provider of Texas energy — has joined many of the state’s smaller providers in looking to increase capacity by diversifying sources and taking advantage of Texas’ own natural resources.

TXU has proposed spending $10B to build 11 new coal-generated energy plants on 9 existing sites, thus averting predicted shortages and making Texas less dependent on foreign sources. Most importantly, according to the Texas Environmental Research Consortium, the TXU coal generation technology will actually make Texas air cleaner.

….

Although Texas already boasts some of the nation’s cleanest emission rates, Dallas Mayor Laura Miller and Houston Mayor Bill White oppose the TXU plan, claiming it will harm air quality. Both mayors are associated with anti-growth energy policy and their opposition to energy expansion should be expected. Powered by junk science, political motivation and the lucrative fundraising that comes from instilling environmental panic in the citizenry, they have partnered with the usual BANANA (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone) groups and a Houston trial lawyer who is a generous contributor to their own political parties.

Although this is political business as usual, energy is now a matter of national security and the most significant factor to economic growth. The stakes are too high to eschew new clean-air technologies and the development of native coal as an energy source.

You Can find the entire article below the fold.

Bright Ideas And Dim Bulbs
By Kerri Houston
October 30, 2006

The rants and raves of two despotic political divas last month at the United Nations delivered a loud but well-oiled warning for U.S. energy consumers.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hugo Chavez, Presidents of Iran and Venezuela, stood on American soil and spat on our flag. Ahmadinejad is a religious zealot obsessed with end-times theology and nuclear bombs. Chavez is a communist dictator infatuated with a communist resurgence in South America while starving free nations of much needed oil.

More recently, Kim Jong Il, North Korea’s resident tyrant, tested nuclear weapons. North Korea has a close relationship with energy rich Iran and Venezuela and oil hungry China. Kim sells nuclear technology to Iran and promises that punitive action by the U.S., however moderate, will be considered an act of war.

None of this is good, as such anti-American rhetoric demonstrates the critical importance of greater diversity in U.S. energy sources.

New technologies and energy finds promise more diversity and less dependence on foreign oil while delivering a cleaner environment. As the U.S. population continues to grow at a rate faster than energy supplies, states are looking beyond petroleum-based resources to avoid the brown-outs and rolling blackouts still plaguing California and New York.

Take Texas, for example. Demographic studies predict a population increase of six million residents over the next ten years, and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas has issued a dire warning that without new power sources, capacity will drop below reliable levels in only two years.

Exponential population growth, overdependence on oil and gas, and the aging of existing energy infrastructure is a guarantee of future shortages for Texas energy consumers.

In an effort to avoid such predicted shortages, TXU — the largest provider of Texas energy — has joined many of the state’s smaller providers in looking to increase capacity by diversifying sources and taking advantage of Texas’ own natural resources.

TXU has proposed spending $10B to build 11 new coal-generated energy plants on 9 existing sites, thus averting predicted shortages and making Texas less dependent on foreign sources. Most importantly, according to the Texas Environmental Research Consortium, the TXU coal generation technology will actually make Texas air cleaner.

Recognizing the importance of all forms of energy diversity, TXU has considerable investment in renewable energy sources such as biomass, methane and wind. In fact, TXU ranks as the fourth largest purchaser of wind energy in the nation and the largest in Texas.

Not only would TXU’s coal generation supply energy for a burgeoning population, it will provide capital and jobs. A study by Austin’s The Perryman Group notes that the energy generation of coal powered facilities (using Texas’ indigenous coal reserves) will provide Texas with $5.2B in investment capital and nearly 14K in new jobs. TXU estimates 21K permanent jobs and $28B in state revenues, some of which would accrue to Texas public schools.

Energy experts and government agencies agree that the TXU’s coal generation plants will provide cleaner air through new emission technologies and phase-out of TXU’s current plants, which are less environmentally friendly. A group of over 50 city councils, community groups and school boards have embraced the jobs, power and capital these new coal plants will provide.

But there’s always one fly in the ointment — or in this case, two.

Although Texas already boasts some of the nation’s cleanest emission rates, Dallas Mayor Laura Miller and Houston Mayor Bill White oppose the TXU plan, claiming it will harm air quality. Both mayors are associated with anti-growth energy policy and their opposition to energy expansion should be expected. Powered by junk science, political motivation and the lucrative fundraising that comes from instilling environmental panic in the citizenry, they have partnered with the usual BANANA (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone) groups and a Houston trial lawyer who is a generous contributor to their own political parties.

Although this is political business as usual, energy is now a matter of national security and the most significant factor to economic growth. The stakes are too high to eschew new clean-air technologies and the development of native coal as an energy source.

In 2005, Venezuela supplied 15% of U.S. oil needs, an amount reduced deliberately by 6% at the beginning of 2006 as Hugo Chavez fulfilled his promise to shrink U.S. supply and divert oil to China and India.

Iran controls the Strait of Hormuz, through which 90% of Persian Gulf oil and two-fifths of the world’s total supply moves. Iran has been building military capacity along the Strait, and disruption of Strait access would create havoc on the American and world oil delivery system and economy.

North Korea has weapons in place that can easily target not only our Far East allies, but oil tankers moving throughout the Hemisphere.

U.S. domestic coal is abundant; our reserves would provide 250 years of energy. Coal is efficient, good for the environment and by reducing our dependence on world oil supply, and would be an agent of protection against the volatility of oil prices and supply.

Perhaps Ahmadinejad, Chavez and Kim did Texas a favor. Let’s hope our state recognizes the importance of energy diversity and security, and ignores the self-serving rants of its own political divas.


Kerri Houston is a native of Dallas and Vice President of Policy for Frontiers of Freedom, a free market public policy institute headquartered in Washington, DC.

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