Rolling Blackouts Hit North Texas . . . lots of explanations

February 7, 2011 § Leave a comment

  . . . but Who’s Minding the Store?     Remembering the 3 R’s 

It’s ‘Super Bowl Week’ in Arlington, Texas (also Dallas and Fort Worth) . . . oops, there goes the electricity.  Meet rolling blackouts.  Really?  Who is in charge of the electricity?

The political portrayal of the deregulated Texas electricity markets from Austin could not be more exuberant . . . Texas is unique; Texas is special, all other regions of the U.S. envy Texas.

The Governor is on board and also running for President (circa 1998), and his hand selected PUCT Commissioners and ERCOT Board of Directors are the giddiest with pride.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas ensures a reliable electric grid and efficient electricity markets.


What was wrong with regulated electric utilities?  A regulated monopoly, rates set by a PUC, a franchise company supporting the community and local economic development . . . well, nothing was wrong, except it sent the wrong signal . . . private business can do it better!

So, in 2002, in non MOU and COOP markets, Texas chunked the 3 R’s of regulated electric utilities (Resilience, Reliability, and Redundancy) out the window and turn its investor owned electric utility markets (namely, Houston and Dallas) over to deregulation.  Nice job PUCT.

The results in the executive suite were positively ugly, and in 2007 with the PUCT approval, the Dallas Utility, TXU, was sold to a private equity trio comprised of KKR, TPG Capital, and Goldman Sachs, with a record $46B of junk bonds to finance the ‘deal’.  Nice job PUCT!

In Texas, we have disconnected (or deregulated if you like) electricity generation from electricity consumption.  We have IPP’s (Independent Power Producers) selling electricity to over 120 REP’s (Retail Electricity Providers) who resell electricity to ‘power to choose’ homes and businesses in deregulated markets with oversight provided by the PUCT and ERCOT.  The results have been less than splendid for electricity customers in deregulated markets.

PV solar electricity would not have solved the rolling blackouts.  No, PV panels do not work well when covered in ice and snow!  But it is no coincidence that the deregulated markets in Houston and Dallas (the sold out Oncor rebate notwithstanding) and the hundreds of REP’s have been the least receptive to distributive grid-tied PV.  In the case of distributive PV, customer choice does not fit their ‘power to choose’ business model.

You cannot expect deregulated electricity markets empowered by the PUCT to be concerned with your best interests.  It will not happen.  You simply are an economic actor in a ‘free market’ with 120 REP’s with small print contracts and perhaps call centers in India.  Good luck.

Whatever you choice for a REP, consider a grid-tied PV system for your home or business to reduce your electricity load.  This is your real choice.  PV is scalable, it’s affordable and economic, it’s renewable and sustainable, and it produces electricity for a very long time from light and without emissions.

Light from light.  How cool is that?

Chet Boortz, CEO


[The comments, positions, and opinions stated above are my own and may or may not represent those of SES 21 USA and its affiliate companies.]


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