Right now, Texas gets most of its electricity from coal and natural gas power plants. But a new report from the agency that runs Texas’ electric grid says the way the state generates electricity could be changing in the next few years.
Rebates for solar panels prompted more people than ever to install them in their homes last year. Austin Energy says it issued 463 rebates in fiscal 2012. That was the highest number ever, breaking the previous record by 40 percent.
The increase came even though Austin Energy decreased the amount of the rebate its lowest ever in June: $2 per watt.
The Obama administration announced what it calls the Clean Power Plan — an ambitious plan to dramatically reduce carbon emissions. From an international perspective, the plan could give the United States more weight in future discussions on curbing so-called greenhouse gases. But there’s some politics here as well: The move is seen by many analysts as legacy-building, and there’s no doubt Texas is in the crosshairs.
The report says electricity bills could rise as much as 20 percent because of the carbon reduction goals, adding that the goals could also endanger electric reliability. Part of that is due to the way the plan would change Texas' energy mix.
“What we found is that the likely impact of the clean power plan is going to be the retirement of a significant portion of the coal-fired capacity in ERCOT," says ERCOT Director of System Planning Warren Lasher.
The goal of the EPA’s clean energy plan is to reduce Texas carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2030.