Reduce emissions and repair the network by encouraging better natural gas infrastructure


This summer, as warm temperatures put pressure on our state’s electricity grid, Texas officials continue to reflect on the important lessons we learned from winter storm Uri. One of them may be above the others: preparing for the unexpected is a daily commitment. We cannot adequately manage crises if we do not constantly assess and invest in the resources and infrastructure necessary to protect our energy systems.

Nowhere was this truth more evident this year than in our state’s electricity grid. Demand for electricity has risen sharply as temperatures plummeted in February. As millions of Texans lost electricity, they lost the ability to heat their homes and stay safe amid some of the lowest temperatures our state has seen in decades.

Texas is blessed with incredible natural resources and, as an elected official, I am responsible for ensuring that the state government properly manages these resources to best serve our citizens.

The Permian Basin alone is home to nearly 300 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, enough to meet household demand across the United States for 60 years. In other words, supply is not a problem. Rather, it is an opportunity. We must use the resources available here at home to ensure the reliability of our state’s electricity grid, whatever the circumstances.

In fact, Texas power generation emissions fell 15% between 2011 and 2018 thanks to a gradual decline in coal-fired production and an increase in natural gas production. This decrease is occurring despite a well-known population boom and the accompanying increase in demand for electricity over the past decade.

But it is not enough to have an abundant supply of natural gas. We had plentiful supplies in February, and we again experienced a catastrophic grid outage.

The key is to ensure that an abundant supply is readily available for use at power generation facilities across the state. To achieve this goal, we must take seriously investments in energy infrastructure, from pipelines to power plants. Transporting the natural gas it comes from, turning it into electricity and getting it where it’s needed should be our top priority.

Pipelines are the safest and fastest method of transporting natural gas to power plants. Pipelines also tackle emissions by reducing the industry practice of flaring gas during oil production.

Operators don’t want to burn – after all, they’re burning the very product they need to sell. While this is sometimes a necessary safety practice when produced gas accumulates and cannot be transported or stored, operators in Texas have significantly reduced the percentage of gas flared. The associated or “stranded” gas that is produced alongside oil has to be connected to local, regional and even global markets, but the economy has to be good to do so.

Encouraging gas pipelines and power plants by giving natural gas tax subsidies similar to those provided for renewables could help us achieve this goal. By doing this and using carbon capture techniques in factories, we can reduce flaring and eliminate emissions, while benefiting Texans and the environment.

Storage is another key infrastructure investment that can unlock the potential of natural gas to provide a more reliable grid. Unlike renewables, such as wind and solar, natural gas can be stored for the long term and used when it is needed most. This is a critical distinction, especially during an unprecedented weather event like Uri.

So how do you implement these solutions in a way that benefits all Texans?

The state and federal government should consider leveling the playing field between renewables and abundant, affordable, and reliable Texas natural gas. Equalizing these incentives could help with the necessary infrastructure investments that ensure that sufficient supplies of this important Texas resource are available whenever they are needed.

Plus, Texans would ultimately benefit from lower utility bills and greater peace of mind knowing the power grid is prepared for spikes in demand like what we experienced earlier this year.

Proper preparation for a crisis event like another winter storm Uri is essential to mitigate its devastating effects. And while Texas has all the resources and tools it needs, this abundance will be of no use to us if we don’t put in place the incentives and policies to develop the infrastructure that ensures that energy. is delivered to customers when they need it most. .

Wright is one of the Three Texas Rail Commissioners and lives in Orange Grove, Texas.


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