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Day two of David Pecker testimony wraps in NY Trump trial; Supreme Court hears arguments on Idaho's near-total abortion ban; ND sees a flurry of campaigning among Native candidates; and NH lags behind other states in restricting firearms at polling sites.

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The Senate moves forward with a foreign aid package. A North Carolina judge overturns an aged law penalizing released felons. And child protection groups call a Texas immigration policy traumatic for kids.

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Wyoming needs more educators who can teach kids trade skills, a proposal to open 40-thousand acres of an Ohio forest to fracking has environmental advocates alarmed and rural communities lure bicyclists with state-of-the-art bike trail systems.

Texas on track for rapid transition to solar-generated power

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Thursday, February 22, 2024   

Texas is showing a flair for solar power generation, demonstrating renewable energy transitions are indeed possible.

Dennis Wamsted, analyst at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, made positive assessments about Texas' solar potential. He said the state was an early adopter of wind energy but did not warm up to solar as quickly due to reliability concerns.

The concern is being laid to rest after records were set this month when solar generated more than one-third of the company's power demands.

"It shows that renewables are reliable and renewables deliver when they're needed, and we can move to a cleaner grid, so everybody benefits," Wamsted emphasized. "The environment benefits, the consumers in Texas benefit because it's cheaper to buy solar and wind power than it is to buy coal power."

He said six years ago, solar was not part of ERCOT's list of generation resources. Now, 20,000 megawatts of installed solar are operating, day in and day out. ERCOT has 26 million Texas customers, representing about 90% of the state's electric load.

ERCOT began making improvements to its power grid after a 2021 winter storm resulted in major outages, leading to shortages of water, food and heat, and hundreds of deaths. In contrast, Wamsted noted during last summer's record heat wave, solar delivered electricity every day at the peak hours when people needed it most.

"Late in the afternoon, everybody comes home from work and turns on their air conditioner, and every night during the summer, solar was reliably producing power and sending it into the grid in Texas," Wamsted recounted.

In addition to solar, Wamsted said the rapid construction of battery storage projects in the past two years in Texas is another sign of the shift to renewable energy underway in ERCOT.

"If you can build something that delivers cheap power, and you can sell it into the grid and you can depend on it, then people will build it," Wamsted stressed. "That's what developers are doing - and clearly, they're making money."

He noted solar records set early this year are likely to be short-lived, as massive amounts of new photovoltaics capacity are expected online in ERCOT over the next two years.

Disclosure: The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy and Priorities, Energy Policy, Environment, and Urban Planning/Transportation. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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