Texans Celebrate “Connect the Grid Act”

Casar Power
Moving Toward a Cleaner, Greener Texas

On Feb. 21 and 22, local leaders and Texans impacted by Winter Storm Uri joined Rep. Greg Casar (TX-35) for press conferences in Austin and San Antonio celebrating the introduction of his new bill, the “Connect the Grid Act,” or H.R. 7348. Progress Texas is proud to endorse this bill which will improve reliability, lower consumer prices, move us closer to green energy goals and most importantly, save lives. 

The legislation will connect our power grid to our neighbors, and is co-led by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), and Sen. Ed Markey (MA), as well as co-sponsored by Texans Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Jasmine Crockett (TX-30), Lloyd Doggett (TX-37), Veronica Escobar (TX-16), Sylvia Garcia (TX-29), Al Green (TX-09), and Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18.)

Other groups that endorsed the bill include the Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Popular Democracy, Clean Energy Grid Action (CEGA), Chispa Texas, Deeds Not Words, Dove Springs Proud, Food & Water Watch, IBEW, IBEW 7th District, Indivisible, League of Conservation Voters, LIUNA - SWLDC, People's Action, PODER,, Public Citizen, San Antonio Alliance of Teachers and Support Personnel (AFT/NEA), Sunrise Movement, Sunrise Movement Austin, Texas AFL-CIO, Texas Campaign for the Environment, Texas Climate Jobs Project, Texas Organizing Project, Workers Defense Project, and Working Families Party.

Why This Turns Us On!  Reliability, Prices, Climate Goals, Saved Lives.

The bill would require three changes, including interconnecting ERCOT and neighboring grids (SPP, MISO, and Western Interconnection), bringing ERCOT under Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) oversight, and requiring the Department of Energy (DOE) to conduct a study on interconnection with Mexico. If passed, the deadline to complete these goals is by 2035. 

Reliability. The bill requires between 9.4 Gigawatts (GW) and 36.7 GW of total transfer capability, which is far more than the existing ties we presently have connected and would improve reliability greatly. By connecting our grid to our neighbors, we increase our transfer capacity and ability to withstand extreme weather events, which means “we can draw power from other states when we need it, and sell power when we have a surplus” said Rep. Casar.

Money Saved. This bill could create 65,000 jobs, and save us $20 billion over 13 years if we connect, but would cost us $27 billion if we don’t. We can’t lose by prioritizing a stronger, cleaner energy system. Additionally, with FERC oversight, we are ensured just and reasonable pricing for energy and robust transmission planning. This would be quite the change as right now, Gov. Greg Abbott decides your energy prices through his appointment of Public Utility Commission members. Once again, you can find him culpable for the disasters of Winter Storm Uri, but you can change what happens next by supporting this bill.

Cleaner, Greener Future. Interconnection is vital to moving us closer to our clean energy goals. We can avoid 67 million metric tons (MMT) of CO2 emissions by connecting our grids. That’s equivalent to 18 coal-fired power plants, and if we connect, that amount of CO2 will be removed over the next 13 years. Furthermore, we can help build up renewable energy sources through interconnection by relieving congestion that often leaves solar and wind underutilized and hampers their growth. Environmental concerns are a major component of this bill, as well as community involvement, and overall ensuring Texans are protected from corporate greed overtaking their interests and well-being.

More Climate Updates: LNG Pause

The Houston Chronicle endorsed the Biden administration’s pause of Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) Exports on Feb. 26. As one of the largest newspapers in the US, reaching 825,000 readers daily, this endorsement from their Editorial Board is a major win for climate advocates and the future of Texas. 

In their article, they address the critical nature of halting LNG exports as “researchers have found that LNG terminals release thousands of tons of pollutants that are hazardous to human health, contributing to heart and respiratory disease as well as cancer.” On Feb. 5, Progress Texas did the same, joining advocacy and climate action groups to support a pause of LNG approvals as a first step in combating the climate crisis. 

Texans have a unique position in this fight, living in the world’s leading natural gas exporting nation, and in the nation’s top energy producing state. We will see the benefits firsthand, in frontline communities, of the DOE updating its economic and environmental analyses  “to better account for how LNG export facilities impact climate change. We commend the Houston Chronicle for supporting this measure, and we hope that it will connect with and inspire more people to champion a cleaner, greener future for Texas.

What’s Next