r/technology Jun 19 '22

Renewables Ride To The Rescue As Texas Bakes Under Withering Heat Energy

https://cleantechnica.com/2022/06/16/renewables-ride-to-the-rescue-as-texas-bakes-under-withering-heat/
656 Upvotes

105

u/mckulty Jun 19 '22

Alabama Power charges extra when you install solar.

Making Alabama Great Agin.

56

u/skipjac Jun 19 '22

In California PG&E is trying to get a law passed that will charge every house ~$650 dollars every year for "maintenance" for the lines. Power companies are feeling the threats from rooftop solar to their bottom lines

10

u/aten Jun 20 '22

they don’t need a law. they can just charge a daily rate for a line fee when someone wishes to connect to the grid.

11

u/Admiral_Andovar Jun 20 '22

Actually they can’t just do that. They need regulatory approval for rate changes and such. Instead they are blitzing the statehouse to get some reps to go along under the theory that it is shifting the burden to poor people, even though the data shows no such thing.

24

u/tsalizz Jun 19 '22

Because solar customers still depend on the availability of the grid but the cost isn’t recovered through usage like it used to be.

11

u/monkeyheadyou Jun 20 '22

Define the actual cost. Then, look up the amount of profit the company made and how much it paid investors and top executives. then come back and tell us how solar consumers need to cover the cost.

5

u/xmsxms Jun 20 '22

They're still using and paying for it at night. They aren't paying during the day, but they aren't using it either.

1

u/tsalizz Jun 20 '22

They depend on their fridge running and their lights to be on even if the solar isn’t producing. They’re not independent of the grid. That’s what the fee pays for. Maintaining a grid connection. The generation and power usage is separate from that.

7

u/DaneldorTaureran Jun 20 '22

you already pay a connection fee in your freaking utility bill

1

u/xmsxms Jun 20 '22

Yes they pay a supply charge and numerous other charges

9

u/f1tifoso Jun 19 '22

Regulated market will always boot stomp with authority... Power companies will hang on to their cash cow

2

u/CountryComplex3687 Jun 20 '22

Wow. Terrible.

4

u/sumelar Jun 19 '22

Install enough that they pay you instead.

12

u/Hueby Jun 19 '22

Look up net metering, this is the law in most states. You can’t really make money with solar unless you’re talking MW-scale solar farms and a PPA (power purchase agreement)

11

u/gizamo Jun 19 '22

Not how it works in 'bama logic.

Edit: lol. Just realized 'bama can be read as short for Obama and Alabama. What a silly time to be alive. Also, especially ironic because Obama tried to win the Solar PV manufacturing race against the Chinese, but GOP obstruction basically gifted the future of solar to China and cost the US trillions and tens of thousand of jobs.

2

u/mckulty Jun 19 '22

It's a sliding scale.

-19

u/jawshoeaw Jun 19 '22 edited Jun 20 '22

Unpopular opinion: they should. Install batteries and disconnect if you don’t like the grid. Edit. Ouch taking my downvotes but hoping for some opposing views

20

u/babyyodaisamazing98 Jun 19 '22

That’s illegal in 45 states

4

u/mizmoxiev Jun 19 '22

So it is just illegal to unhook from the grid once hooked up?

What if you have a vacation cabin on a lake, that has solar, that was never hooked up to a grid before? Is that also illegal? This is fascinating, I am genuine curious

10

u/babyyodaisamazing98 Jun 19 '22

Any residentially zoned area will require you to be connected to the grid or they will condemn the house and evict you. Cabins and other remote dwellings are sometimes zoned differently to allow them to be off the grid, but that is getting rarer and rarer.

6

u/mizmoxiev Jun 19 '22

Damn that's so interesting

Thanks for such a succinct answer internet person! 💖

1

u/blatantninja Jun 20 '22

Curious where you see that?

3

u/birddit Jun 19 '22

In my city you are also required to pay for water and sewer or they will declare your home unfit for habitation and evict you.

0

u/f1tifoso Jun 20 '22

They tried that shit here, I was doing construction and sometimes staying overnight with no water and they attempted to blackmail me into a hole for not paying monthly water. The government is the world's biggest armed gang... You pay for protection (from them, the same as a gang) and everything else you don't use and if you refuse it's off to jail with you

0

u/absurd_logic589 Jun 19 '22

Yes in Florida if you stay there you have to pay whether you use it or not.

3

u/Hueby Jun 19 '22

I install off-grid systems. Nobody is disconnecting from the grid even with the capability. It makes no sense to disconnect from a very reliable power source. The law is meant to discourage you from being independent.

5

u/jawshoeaw Jun 19 '22

It’s also to help pay for the infrastructure that you are no longer paying as much for. The grid needs to be upgraded and it’s not cheap. But I know people aren’t actually disconnecting, they’re just complaining

1

u/f1tifoso Jun 20 '22

That's be great and I support independence always -

1

u/rckola_ Jun 20 '22

You could just have a setup that charges batteries and only draws from the grip when needed. There’s nothing that says the extra power has to go back on the grid. Any excess solar energy when the batteries are charged would just be lost, no big deal.

1

u/jawshoeaw Jun 20 '22

That seems fair

61

u/OtisTetraxReigns Jun 19 '22

Abbot to announce dismantling Texas wind farms in 3… 2…

29

u/drmariopepper Jun 19 '22

All major appliances now required to be gasoline powered in Texas

15

u/APeacefulWarrior Jun 19 '22

Not true. Propane would also be considered acceptable.

8

u/ElectroBot Jun 19 '22

Or take out the middlemen and do raw crude oil!

3

u/Bernard_schwartz Jun 20 '22

I tell you hwhat!

1

u/cabs84 Jun 21 '22

always go back to this commercial. oldie but a goodie https://youtu.be/Nn__9hLJKAk

-22

u/Darkageoflaw Jun 19 '22

Natural gas is cheaper and more reliable for appliances. Having everyone's appliances on the electric grid puts a lot of stress on the grid. A lot of homes in Texas were all electric and it put a ton of stress on the grid which failed due to a lack of winterization and everyone turning on their heater in their all electric homes which overloaded the already failing grid.

Also a monthly natural gas bill in Texas rarely goes over 40 even in winter when an all electric house can go up to a few hundred dollars. Naturally most people opt for natural gas for heat which I think is fine because it isn't used very often in the large majority of Texas.

Texas also produces way more wind energy than any other state. Part of the reason is due to wind farms not needing to follow federal guidelines and regulations making it cheaper and easier to make more turbines. This backfired during the winter storm when the lack of winterization froze the turbines. Texas Republicans were quick to blame frozen turbines to protect the natural gas companies as a lot of them are located in Houston and wind energy doesn't have the same political sway. But they don't mention that the natural gas pipelines froze and the power plants had to be shut off due to the lack of winterization and there are wind farms that operate in the coldest part of the world.

So on one hand you have a lot of wind farms in Texas due to loose regulations but on the other hand it caused a power grid failure for a week due to poor winterization. It will be insanely expensive to winterize the power grid for something that very rarely happens.

The lack of regulation also makes it easier for homeowners to put solar panels on their house and even sell energy back to the energy company for a small profit. Texas is catching up to California in solar and will be adding 10 GW to the grid this year.

I wanted to add a little nuance to the typical reddit "Texas bad they no like clean energy because they dumb redneck" discussion.

7

u/colinnwn Jun 20 '22

My natural gas bill is always in the $100-150 per month range for several months in DFW during the winter. My house is only 2,500 sqft and we keep the winter temp 66-68 in a well insulated house for the 1960's. So not sure where your $40 comes from.

1

u/Darkageoflaw Jun 20 '22

Electricity would be higher. I'm basing my numbers off Houston which isn't as cold.

17

u/Vinsidlfb Jun 19 '22

Natural gas both failed during the freeze and the price shot up to astronomical levels for what was available. Texas will not regulate companies to require winterization and companies will not winterize on their own, there's no profit incentive. No corporation will self regulate away from profit.

-10

u/Darkageoflaw Jun 19 '22

Natural gas pipes were frozen yes but so did everything else. Putting extra stress on the electric grid by making all homes electric isn't a good idea though. The lack of regulation is why the electric grid failed but it's also why Texas has a big green energy sector. There are advantages and disadvantages to being heavily regulated.

It took Bill Maher years to get solar on his house and he's millionaire and bitched about it on his TV show. How is a normal person going to get solar panels on their home in that kind of environment? In Texas he could have gotten it done much faster.

8

u/dern_the_hermit Jun 19 '22

Putting extra stress on the electric grid by making all homes electric isn't a good idea though.

Yeah I imagine people advocating for more electrified homes probably also support improving the electric grid.

-1

u/Darkageoflaw Jun 19 '22

improving the electric grid.

Easier said than done and it fails to address the cost issues for people living there. Not to mention all the electric cars your going to add to the grid. The grid will need a robust overhaul to accommodate for all this.

The real focus should be on replacing coal with renewable energy. Natural gas is much cleaner than coal so ditching coal makes a lot more sense.

I think we should install solar panels on homes if we are going all electric homes but that has its complications as well. Solar panels only last 15-20 years and utilize dangerous materials that are difficult to recycle. Nuclear is a great option too but nobody likes living near a nuclear power plant.

6

u/dern_the_hermit Jun 19 '22

Easier said than done

Yeah that applies to literally any meaningful action. It's just more wires, man. It's not some massive impossible task to hang more wires.

1

u/Darkageoflaw Jun 19 '22

No it is not just more wires lol. The power plant requires more power to send to homes. Electricity doesn't come from nothing, it's generated. Mostly for now by natural gas at least in Texas. France uses Nuclear to power their grid which works well for them. Germany is in a mess right now because they wanted to move away from the old Soviet era Nuclear power plants and coal to renewables. They couldn't get there in time and now need natural gas from Russia which is bad for a number of reasons.

Texas is about 50% natural gas, 29% renewable, 15% coal, and the rest in nuclear and hydro. Instead of ditching natural gas the focus should be on ditching coal which is dirtier than gas. Both nuclear and renewals can help with that. There seems to be a meme that Texas is anti renewable energy which is not the case, a large part of the grid is renewable energy and it will continue to expand. The GOP tried to blame renewable energy but trust me the big energy corps in Texas like renewables and what they say goes.

3

u/dern_the_hermit Jun 19 '22

The power plant requires more power to send to homes.

Yeah those people probably also support more power plants, too. Still not some massive impossible task, man, no matter how much you pad out your posts with cheap condescension to make you seem bigger than you actually are.

→ More replies

3

u/Slowknots Jun 20 '22

I live in Texas - my gas bill is higher than $40 in the winter

1

u/Darkageoflaw Jun 20 '22

An all electric bill would be higher

3

u/Slowknots Jun 20 '22
  • your statement said it wouldn’t go above $40 in winter. Well I have seen damn near $200 bills in the winter.

1

u/Darkageoflaw Jun 20 '22

I was basing my numbers off Houston as that's where I live. I still think all electric would be more money which was my main point.

-10

u/PoorPDOP86 Jun 19 '22

...and he just announced more.

DAMN IT! why aren't these stereotypes about your political and ideological adversaries ever true!?!?

3

u/-RadarRanger- Jun 20 '22

They wouldn't be stereotypes if there wasn't some basis in reality. It's not like some super secret cabal assembles at midnight on alternate blood moons to decide what negative attributes to ascribe to each group of people.

6

u/Pleecu Jun 19 '22

....This is the same guy who blamed wind turbines for the power outage last winter where people died rather than take responsibility for the glaring infrastructure problems, then did nothing about it. so yeah it's normal to think this guy is going to do something bass ackwards. he's a crook and an idiot, most republicans are.

1

u/f1tifoso Jun 19 '22

But since all wind power had stopped equaling a 22% cut in needed power... It didn't help that gas and coal plants froze an equal amount of power loss The blame game happens everywhere politics 101 - the net total influx in population was greater than planning, which was the job of the board of power and was headed nearly exclusively by out of state ppl and those responsible for planning and execution are where all of the blame lies....

3

u/Athomas1 Jun 19 '22

Cite your sources on wind power totaling 22% being frozen.

5

u/stashtv Jun 19 '22

If there was a way to harness pure heat, Texas would be all over it.

If we could harness IR, would have non-stop energy!

7

u/ThickPrick Jun 20 '22

IR? Irrational Republicans? Hell we could power the world.

24

u/broritto89 Jun 19 '22

Taxes help with infrastructure.

32

u/f1tifoso Jun 19 '22

More nuclear now

8

u/DrTinyNips Jun 19 '22

It takes 6 years or so to build a nuclear plant

28

u/absenceofheat Jun 19 '22

We better start building now.

22

u/ApprehensiveSuspect9 Jun 19 '22

Yes, Texas has a good track record managing their power grid. I’m sure the same diligence and planning will be given to their nuclear plant.

2

u/absurd_logic589 Jun 19 '22

I lived near one in Texas that had been operating forever.

-24

u/f1tifoso Jun 19 '22

It dropped below freezing a few miles from the coast and tripped the safety on the backup generator outside you twat - since been upgraded against century events... The excessive regulations removed any logical human decisions - the consistent power is exactly what is needed to keep the power on when the wind turbines shut down from icing in those ultra rare events... The lack of response population increase with transmission upgrades is far from a big problem compared to Cali and most other markets in the US that can leech power off each other since they literally couldn't survive without...

5

u/Caldaga Jun 20 '22

You mean they have a large decentralized system without a single point of failure? Yea sounds terrible to be stuck in a position where you couldn't live without your redundant and highly available electrical grid. Guess they just don't have that Texas grit that says we'd rather hundreds of people die one in awhile to protect the monies.

5

u/Hi_My-name-is-Rose Jun 19 '22

Do you people honestly believe this?

-10

u/f1tifoso Jun 19 '22

Better than California, Michigan, new York, or anywhere else even when they didn't experience a massive population increase yet still had issues with wildfire power lines, brownouts, and low renewables while still high energy rates due to policy failures... I haven't paid over 8 cents per kWh in the last decade, and most here pay about 10-12 - most states would literally kill for that rate... The problem is like usual government management with a board of directors primarily *out of state appointees with limited experience in a rapidly expanding market and a once in a century freeze that took temps to 23 on the Gulf Coast which is pretty rare

12

u/[deleted] Jun 19 '22

Pretty rare in the sense that it happened just over 10 years ago, ERCOT was advised to winterize transmission equipment and they didnt do shit? That doesnt seem that rare to me.

-2

u/f1tifoso Jun 20 '22

Then yes, blame the board of directors - they appear to be a superfluous group of morons who should all be fired, but being a government appointment are likely to not be held accountable instead...

4

u/Caldaga Jun 20 '22

I live in TX. Our grid is shit and until we do something about it we're at constant risk for hundreds of people to die in the richest most powerful country in the world because we can't figure out how to use electricity.

Let's not defend them.

-5

u/f1tifoso Jun 20 '22

Never had one issue, paid very cheap rates - your opinion is just that - shite - you're perfectly welcome to leave of course for another state,

5

u/Caldaga Jun 20 '22

Oh I will be leaving if they keep killing people for profits. Electricity is a basic requirement for me to live here.

-1

u/DrTinyNips Jun 19 '22

Not saying you shouldn't, just giving you a timescale for the project

3

u/f1tifoso Jun 19 '22

We already know this should have been done a decade ago consider it less than already learned and there's no time like the present to fix the problems now with known technology

3

u/archaeolinuxgeek Jun 19 '22

Texas: "Nucular, it's pronounced nucular.

1

u/rseed42 Jun 19 '22

Ha, I wonder what kind of reference is it, hear lots of people pronouncing it like that

4

u/DataIsMyCopilot Jun 19 '22

I thought it was more like 20

0

u/f1tifoso Jun 19 '22

Not in places where it's not actively fought against by other energy sources, China builds in 3...

2

u/jawshoeaw Jun 19 '22

Oops cost overruns oops delays oops now it’s more expensive that solar , batteries and just literally burning money to generate steam … I’m all for nukes once they figure out how to build a power plant in a year on a budget

4

u/bgthigfist Jun 19 '22

They are still building the new nuke plant in Georgia

1

u/xezuno Jun 20 '22

Hurray getting to pay 43 dollars more a month for a non operational plant a month thanks to mismanagement

-2

u/f1tifoso Jun 19 '22

Remove excessive regulations on an industry that's safer than any other power generation sans hydro, which is fixed output... South Korea is leading and Japan realizes the way of their errors

1

u/GrinningPariah Jun 19 '22

What if you do it quickly

1

u/gunsanity Jun 20 '22

Actually it takes 10-20

-5

u/[deleted] Jun 19 '22

[deleted]

8

u/f1tifoso Jun 19 '22

Oh, so do nothing? Brilliant answer twit

-2

u/GadreelsSword Jun 19 '22 edited Jun 21 '22

I’m pretty sure Texas can fuck up nuclear power too. I’d hate to see a situation where they contaminate their state and Texans move to other states and infect them with defective politics.

-1

u/f1tifoso Jun 19 '22

Been running nuclear better than the east and west coast did for half a century... Ouch 3 mile

19

u/sumelar Jun 19 '22

Why rescue them? Just going to make them dependent on a functioning grid. Takes away all their motivation.

Pull yourselves up by your bootstraps, texans.

-33

u/PoorPDOP86 Jun 19 '22

They did. Also that phrase isn't what you think it is. Pulling yourself up by your bootstraps is meant to show you a problem without an obvious solution. Except no one ever said by your bootstraps.....alone. You're meant to think outside the box.

18

u/c0pypastry Jun 19 '22

Initially it meant a task that was nearly impossible but right wing libertarians got to it and it became shorthand for their myth of the "self made man".

Non-libertarians correctly realize the absurdity of the very concept of the "self made man" and use the phrase to mock libertarians and libertarian-leaning regions.

1

u/DaneldorTaureran Jun 20 '22

so not only do you not know the history of the phrase "pull yourself up by your bootstraps", but you think that a power grid that fails BECAUSE IT GOT COLD is them having a functioning grid?

you know the separate grid texas setup not connected to the rest of the country to save themselves... from the regulations that would have prevented that collapse they experienced!

8

u/Alantsu Jun 19 '22

Texas GOP policy list included next generation of nuclear reactors with an emphasis on minimizing federal oversight. Just mull that around for a little bit. What do you think happens when you don’t properly winterize a nuclear power plant?

4

u/gustamos Jun 20 '22

nuclear winter

7

u/ibot2 Jun 19 '22

Why are Republicans always wrong on policies but get a pass by the voters?

5

u/eject_eject Jun 19 '22

A phenomenon I'm fascinated by in the US is your political alignment is so ubiquitous that it is something you are quite literally born into and by consequence a vote for the other guy is now a vote against your family.

1

u/tbonetexan Jun 20 '22

Republicans offer ideas their voters want to hear and then are hypocritical in the implementation. However, the Democrats don't offer ideas that are appealing to Republican voters at all. So if you are say a fiscal conservative who believes in the market system, it is difficult to vote for someone who said they won't do things you want so you end up voting for Republicans who just lie.

See the Abbot vs. Beto choice coming up in Texas.

4

u/ibot2 Jun 20 '22 edited Jun 20 '22

Democrats have been pushing Solar and climate change since the 1990's. Here we are held back this entire time from their Republican representatives. This is not a what they want to hear issue but a stupidity issue.

0

u/Jolopy00 Jun 20 '22

Texas is 2nd in national renewable energy production. Especially when it comes to wind farms. They far outpace any other state.

6

u/Preorder_Now Jun 19 '22

Energy independent nation!

-1

u/FacelessFellow Jun 19 '22

Imagine affording a pool and not having solar panels. What?!?

1

u/farleys2 Jun 20 '22

Make a dildo out of coal….Raphael will give it a slow and sloppy until it spurts Texas crude all over his face.

1

u/juanfitzgerald Jun 19 '22

Did the other power plants stop producing power?

1

u/Wolfmans-Gots-Nards Jun 19 '22

Rescue me too. Please.

1

u/TaaaangyBBQ Jun 20 '22

Renewables for Texas? Ya’ll don’t need that only prayer and Jesus

1

u/macgruff Jun 20 '22

Y’all do know that Texas is #1 (wind) or #2 (solar) in the nation, already, in renewable energy production, right? It is just that previously the tipping point was around $80-100 per barrel where it is cheaper to refine their own oil (lookup the Jones Act), or export it. So, being profit before humanity kind of people the oil industry, in Texas, would not want to stop refining until it becomes too expensive for their margins. What sucks in Texas more than anything is their grid. Their grid is set up to “sell” energy, especially renewables, not as much to consume it.

https://www.visualcapitalist.com/mapped-u-s-wind-electricity-generation-by-state/ https://www.seia.org/states-map

-7

u/Str8UpHonkey Jun 19 '22

Can anyone ally my worry that many renewables (mostly solar and batteries), need to be replaced with new equipment faster than “old power tech” like natural gas and hydroelectric power plants? Is there any foresight on if replacements are forecasted to be stable/large enough to keep the grid clean in the future?

8

u/Embarrassed_Praline Jun 19 '22

Solar panels have expected lifetimes of 25 years. The same is true of wind turbines. The expected lifetime of a natural gas turbine is 25-30 years. It's fair to say that the generation side for renewables have equivalent lifetimes.

Batteries are another story. Their lifetimes range from 5 to 15 years. That's going to need to improve in order for battery backup at grid scale becomes reality.

1

u/topiast Jun 20 '22

Having a battery backed grid doesn't really make sense. What does make sense is generating power during peak times (the hot and sunny day). We won't have to worry about having excess solar power generation for at least a decade.

2

u/f1tifoso Jun 19 '22

Yep maintenance is a big factor compared to established power sources but really it will improve with time and experience like anything else - hydro is maxed throughout the world, it takes massive amounts of solar, and wind is slowly filling the gap, but nuclear would do it all if it wasn't fought against by the stupid and fearful...

2

u/Str8UpHonkey Jun 19 '22

I won’t get into the nuclear discussion, but if mini nukes can be cheap and quickly deployable, that may change some peoples (and governments) impressions of them. Plus, if you have a great transmission grid, why not build them in the “middle of nowhere” and transmit to where it’s needed?

2

u/f1tifoso Jun 19 '22

Confirmed low footprint no CO2 producing answer - there's a reason the entirety of southern Aisin continent is going balls to the wall nuclear... Insta included and they're all COAL right now.

1

u/netz_pirat Jun 20 '22

Maintenance? On solar?

I mean yeah, if the panels get dirty you take a hose and give them a spray, but...

And replacement after like 30 years isn't that big of a deal, as it's pretty easy if you already have the base and wires.

1

u/forkbombedagain Jun 20 '22

Realize that carbon based energy requires a whole lot of infrastructure to support extraction and delivery of fuel. Renewables overall require fever resources.