CGMF's research briefing addresses the growing energy-affordability-poverty nexus in Texas

Austin (August 9, 2022)—Texas — the nation’s largest energy producer and consumer — is experiencing a succession of heat waves taxing the state’s electric grid and consumers’ wallets.  High temperatures are pushing electricity consumption to new heights every month, while electricity prices have risen more than 70 percent during the past year.  

And although Texas enjoys extraordinary wealth, one-third of Texans have low incomes and live in energy poverty, with the combination of high heat and high electricity prices threatening their health and pocketbooks.

To help address this issue, the Austin-based Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation presented an online research briefing, illuminating Texas's growing energy, affordability, and poverty nexus.

“Affordable electricity is a significant household issue for many families. The economic health of citizens should be the heart of state energy policy. However, high energy costs create a disproportionate economic burden that puts individual families and entire communities at risk,“ said David Monsma, director of CGMF’s Clean Energy and Subsurface Energy Programs.

Since August is historically Texas’ hottest month of the year, a roundtable of experts provided background information and perspective on the implications of heat and high energy costs for all Texans. 

-Dr. Andrew Dessler, a climate scientist and professor of Atmospheric Sciences at Texas A&M University, discussed the outlook for high temperatures in August and September 2022.

-Alison Silverstein, an independent consultant and former advisor at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Public Utility Commission of Texas, reviewed and expounded on the recent rise in electricity prices within the Electric Reliability Council of Texas.

-Dr. Bobuchi Ken-Opurum, director of research for the Texas Energy Poverty Research Institute, and founder and principal investigator of the Re-HOUSED Climate Resilience Project, addressed income, energy poverty, and equity issues.

-Doug Lewin, president of Stoic Energy, moderated the panel and a Q&A period for attendees.

“When ERCOT’s electric grid is strained, it’s because we’re dealing with high population growth and extremely high (or low) temperatures that Texas hasn’t anticipated, planned or built for.  And this has nothing to do with adding renewables or keeping old fossil plants around,” said Alison Silverstein, an independent consultant and former advisor at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Public Utility Commission of Texas. “Texans are fortunate to have a diverse number of resources to help keep the lights on while holding energy costs from rising even higher.”

For a link to the briefing’s recording, click here (to be added by 1:00 pm Central Time).

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