PUC Examines Power Generation Shortage In Texas

The Public Utility Commission of Texas questioned energy companies today about how to get them to build new power plants and meet the growing energy demand in the state.

The state and power companies are at odds over how to meet the needs of Texas electricity consumers in the coming years.

Texas residents are using more power than ever before, which puts on a strain on the power grid, especially during the hot
summer months.

But power companies are slow to build new generating plants because it's not cost-effective. The PUC held a daylong public meeting in Austin to examine what it will take to get companies to build.

This is PUC Chair Donna Nelson talking to Catherine Webking with the Texas Energy Association for Marketers.

"It's just frustrating. We want you to help us, we want you to be part of the solution and not just criticize us for what we're trying to do."

"Absolutely, Chairman. And I don't think we have said energy-only is working and we're not trying to say that. We have tried to be part of the solution."

Some of the ideas bandied about include financial incentives for power companies who add extra plants, as well as rebates for large industrial consumers who sharply reduce their useage.

Tom Payton from Occidental Power says until a long-term solution can be formed, there's a simple fix for now.

"If your concern is you don't have enough for next summer, just go buy some for next summer, send the bill to whoever's short. It's simple, as much as anything can be simple in this market, and straightforward."

Payton says that method would push companies that don't generate enough power to meet their customer demands to increase their capacity.

It's estimated that Texas will exceed its grid capacity within a few years, if no new power plants are built. That would lead to regular rolling blackouts.

Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...