Abbott, Patrick call for “immediate review” of energy grid policies

In Spring, the ERCOT CEO told lawmakers the state would need to double its energy output by 2030.

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Tuesday was the second hottest day of the summer so far, convincing many Texans to crank up their air conditioning. With so many people using appliances on hot days, some leaders worry the state's largest power grid will be strained.

Monday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R), and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick (R) called for an "immediate review of all policies concerning the grid."

This came after the CEO of ERCOT, Pablo Vegas told lawmakers artificial intelligence data centers, crypto-currency miners, and the oil and gas industry turning to electric power will require a near doubling of the energy supply.

Industry experts have been telling NBC 5 for weeks it's already a mad dash to build more power plants to keep up with demand.

‘"We know that there are some power plants that are getting built right but it normally is going to take eighteen months, twenty-four months, to get some of this new dispatchable generation online," said Walt Baum, CEO of Powering Texans, an group representation four major energy companies.

Last November, Texas voters approved the Texas Energy Fund, loaning natural gas companies $5 billion to build more power plants. Companies asked for more than $39 billion in new projects. In a statement Monday, Gov. Abbott and Lt. Gov. Patrick said they will aim to double the fund to $10 billion.

In their statement, they wrote the average plant takes three to four years to build and new energy transmission power lines take three to six years to connect everything together.

"Texas is currently the fastest state to approve and build new plants and transmission lines because of our low regulations and pro-business policies, but we must move quickly," the two wrote.

Energy experts tell NBC 5 that the grid will be challenged the most in the short term before the new power plants are up and running. Last year ERCOT issued a record number of conservation notices.

Last week in Dallas, Vegas argued it was possible for the state to grow its way out of the problem by adding new power plants.

Questioned by some at a Dallas Chamber event on the new data centers and crypto-mining operations, Vegas said he believes Texas can get more power on the grid to support the growing industries.

“You know, the future of the economy is digital. There’s no question. We need to have these assets in the world in order to support our current want of life and the future economies that are going to be here," said Vegas.

The new industries of crypto-currency and artificial intelligence have come under new scrutiny since Vegas's update on the power needs of lawmakers. Lt. Governor Dan Patrick publicly questioned whether the industries create enough jobs to justify their power needs.

Lee Bratcher, president of the Texas Blockchain Council argued on Lone Star Politics the industry is trying to be a good partner with the state government and ERCOT.

"When the price of power goes up, Bitcoin miners turn off. In the ERCOT marketplace, the price for power is a proxy for grid stress so when the price is rising that’s when there’s less supply and a lot of demand. And Bitcoin miners are allergic to high prices so they will turn off," said Bratcher.

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