Power to the People: Connecting the Texas Grid

connect the grid
A new bill from Rep. Casar will keep the lights on

Toplines & Key Facts: 

  • The Texas Power Grid is isolated from the two national systems
  • Rep. Casar announced a new bill fixing this, connecting with neighboring states
  • The “Connect the Grid Act” will save lives and money

Get Connected

On the third anniversary of Winter Storm Uri, Congressman Greg Casar (TX-35) announced the “Connect the Grid Act”, which will secure energy for us all by interconnecting Texas’ electrical grid with our neighbors. It plans to increase reliability while saving Texan lives, bring down prices, and move us closer to clean energy goals. Authored by Rep. Casar, and co-led by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey, the bill is endorsed by a long list of groups including Clean Energy Grid Action (CEGA), IBEW, Texas AFL-CIO, and Texas Campaign for the Environment, and of course, Progress Texas.

What really happened in Feb. 2021?

We lost power and then people: more than 10 million of us suffered blackouts, estimates suggest that more than 246 Texans died, and our state suffered $100 billion in economic damages. These are the consequences of only one winter storm combined with a history of deregulation and privatization. 

We talk about 2021’s energy failure as a matter of the Power Grid, when really the focus of that breakdown should be on our isolated and deregulated energy system. The Texas Railroad Commission failed to take precautionary steps in protecting us, with their purview in the state’s natural gas production, during critical weather events. This neglect included failing to regulate updates of weatherization practices, particularly with gas pipelines that froze, and leaving natural gas producers deemed uncritical which resulted in cut off power plants. ERCOT and the PUC have taken much of the blame for Uri, but they could not transmit power that wasn’t there. And it wasn’t there because the RRC didn’t care to fund or regulate these critical updates. 

First and foremost, we need our grid connected to national partners. This legislation will do that. If we were connected to national grids like parts of East and West Texas were, then the extreme need for electric transmission –costing us $1 billion for each gigawatt not transmitted to neighbors– would not have overpowered our capacity and the lights would have stayed on. But in regards to state oversight, it’s time to elect accountable representatives to the Railroad Commission who will prioritize people over profits, and truly regulate natural gas in Texas. Our vote will be for Bill Burch. (Early voting is underway, and Election Day is March 5.)

“Simple grid reliability opportunities have been shrugged off by those with the power to safeguard Texans' lives and wallets. With federal intervention, we can deliver power to the people and put ‘ERCOT emergencies’ in the past.” – Kathleen Thompson, Executive Director, Progress Texas

What about the Texas Power Grid? Why Connect?

For decades, politicians, and energy billionaires who fund their campaigns, have kept our power isolated from national grids to avoid consumer protections and federal standards. The “Connect the Grid Act” would overturn this deadly laissez faire status quo and rightfully connect Texans with increased protection individually, provide more reliability for the nation as a whole, and return to regulated prices. If we get connected, we can weather the next storm. 

As the national leader in energy production, we only stand to benefit in connecting ERCOT with its neighbors. By drawing power when we need it, and selling when we have a surplus we could save $4 billion in normal conditions and $20 billion in extreme weather events. The costs if we stay isolated include a potential $27 billion loss and damage to our climate from enduring carbon dioxide emissions of up to 67 million metric tons. That is equal to 18 coal-fired power plants, and if we connect, that amount of CO2 will be removed over the next 13 years. We need the “Connect the Grid Act” on multiple fronts, but interconnection is vital to meet the needs of a cleaner, greener future for Texas.

Off the Grid

Dissenters to this legislation are ridiculous Texas secessionists, calling this bill a “direct attack” on efforts to make Texas an independent nation. We can either be a state that lets its people die in the cold, or we can share power amongst each other and our neighbors, ensuring our survival to weather the storms ahead.

How can you give “Power to the People”

  • Support the “Connect the Grid Act” online or in-person!
    • 2/22, 9am CST – San Antonio press conference supporting the Connect the Grid Act with Congressman Greg Casar. RSVP here
    • WHERE: Rooftop of Opportunity Home’s Villa Tranchese Apartments, 307 Marshall St., San Antonio, TX 78212
  • Vote Bill Burch for Railroad Commissioner, Early Voting continues this week!