The PJ Tatler

EPA's New Rule Would Force Blackouts in Heat-Stricken Texas: Texas PUC

The non-partisan Texas Public Utilities Commission is blasting the Obama EPA’s new cross-state pollution rule, arguing in a letter to the EPA that if the rule had been in place this summer, Texas would have experienced rolling blackouts across the entire state. The Commission’s letter, linked here, strongly argues that the EPA has gone about the process of implementing the rule entirely wrong, underestimating the impact the rule is likely to have on power producers. Concerning the EPA’s rule and the possibility of blackouts:

The critical importance of electrice generation adequacy was brought home as the Texas PUC was finalizing these comments. On August 2 and 3, 2011, temperatures across most of Texas ranged from 105 to 111 degrees. Because of the unseasonably hot weather, the ERCOT (Electric Reliability Council of Texas) region of Texas set a new peak demand record of 68,294 MW, blowing through the 2010 record of 65,776 MW. Although ERCOT avoided the need for rolling outages because of its current electric reserves, the ERCOT grid operated very close to its capacity. It is clear that, had the EPA rules discussed in these comments been in effect, Texans would have experienced rolling outages and the risk of massive load curtailment. Our modern economy depends upon a reliable source of electricity, and outages, rolling or otherwise, cost Texans millions of dollars.

Not said in the PUC’s letter: Power outages striking as Texas experienced a historic heat wave and drought could also have cost lives among the state’s most vulnerable.

The PUC’s letter also notes that Texas has successfully reduced its NOx and SO2 emissions on its own, and encourages the EPA to reconsider its “overly burdensome” rules.

Both of Texas’ senators have also fired off a letter to administrator Cass Sunstein, protesting the EPA’s rule, calling on the EPA to stay its implementation. Sens. Hutchison and Cornyn’s letter is here. All but one member of the Texas delegation to Congress have signed letters protesting the EPA’s actions (Dem. Rep. Lloyd Doggett is the lone holdout, favoring the EPA over his own state).