(RightWing.org) – The state of Texas is no stranger to the idea of massive battles being fought over important issues, like the Alamo, for example. While the latest one underway isn’t using guns, the state Senate and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick have notched a victory in the first battle that could end up defending the lives of many of their citizens in the form of a package of bills to reform the state’s power grid that recently passed in the State Senate. But not everyone approves.
In February 2021, Winter Storm Uri unleashed its fury upon the state and wreaked havoc for a week on its citizens. According to the Texas Comptroller’s website, 69% of the state’s population lost power in that storm, which is exactly what some new legislation is crafted to avoid in the future.
As part of a package of measures that have been sent to the Texas House of Representatives, Senate Bill 6 (SB6) would establish the Texas Energy Insurance Program, which would maintain 10,000 MW of power to be available at all times, according to a statement from the Lieutenant Governor. The power plants built under the $10 billion (estimated) program would be designed to supply dispatchable energy, in other words, they would only be active when the need arises.
Patrick made sure to point out that this will not be a tax burden to his constituents, noting it is instead “a smart usage of our multibillion-dollar budget surplus [that will reduce] interest rates…to 0% for the financing of the new generation plants.” Public policy analyst David Blackmon wrote an article for Forbes giving his take on the bill package, and expressed his frustration towards the State House and its lackadaisical attitude towards this issue.
Blackmon notes other ideas have been tossed around since Uri caused such deadly trouble for the state but writes that “SB 6 remains the only concrete plan that would ensure… the capacity is actually built.” He also calls out the green energy brigade that opposes this idea and would instead favor wind or solar power. In his opinion, their proposal lacks objective proof that they would actually provide viable alternatives.
One gripe that appeared in the Left-leaning Houston Chronicle complains that these “massive natural gas-fired power plants would sit idle at least 97 percent of the time.” Since the idea is to have them ready for emergency situations in the same way fire extinguishers are installed in office buildings or airbags in every car, it begins to sound like the ultimate straw man argument.
Blackmon also said Patrick, as the head of the State Senate, has some tactics he can use to make sure this matter is voted on by the Texas House of Representatives before the end of the legislative session. And while many might accuse the Lieutenant Governor of strong-arm tactics, “the memory of 300 Texans who perished” as a result of the failures “proves it is a matter that is well worth that effort.”
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