Why Renewable Energy Should Be Our Main Focus Following the Deadly Texas Winter Storm

Texas winter storm reveals issues with power grid

How does renewable energy play into the bigger picture of protecting our future, so as to avoid future crises such as February’s winter storm?

Joe Haugen, the Director of Power Supply at IGS Energy, believes the vast amount of greenhouse gas emissions to be the main culprit in the acceleration of climate change. Haugen is responsible for power pricing, power trading and hedging, and wholesale market operations behind more than twenty utilities in ERCOT, ISO NE, MISO, and PJM.

“Switching to renewable energy decreases emissions so we are able to plan for and hopefully avoid some of the more extreme events in the future. To maintain reliability, we are going to have to implement multiple new technologies to create a diverse portfolio.”

With more than 14 years experience of buying and selling power in the wholesale markets, and the last eight years at IGS, Haugen believes the way the State of Texas responded to the winter storm could have been done differently, had it been prepared.

Joe Haugen, Director Power Supply IGS Energy | IGS Energy

The technologies Haugen referred to as being the next step in maintaining reliability were batteries to level out the intermittency, interconnecting renewables from different regions to diversify weather risks, and microgrids which can disconnect from the grid during blackouts and allow homes to share rooftop solar or other smaller renewable power resources in their neighborhoods to help if the wholesale market is losing reserves.

Legally Speaking…

For companies that thought it was acceptable to send customers “sky-high” electricity bills during the February storm, absolutely unacceptable. On March 1, just two weeks after the winter storm hit the Lone Star State, the Texas attorney general filed a lawsuit against one of those companies, Griddy Energy and Griddy Holdings which sent many of its customers ridiculously priced electricity bills, which resulted in the AG’s office receiving over 400 consumer complaints against the company in less than two weeks.

Specifically, the complaint alleges “false, misleading, and deceptive advertising and marketing practices.”

“I will hold Griddy accountable for their escalation of this winter storm disaster,” Texas’ Attorney General Ken Paxton said. “My office will not allow Texans to be deceived or exploited by unlawful behavior and deceptive business practices.” The lawsuit alleges that Griddy misled customers and downplayed the risk of its pricing scheme, which charges the most when customers are most vulnerable. As it currently stands, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) revoked Griddy Energy’s right to conduct activity in the state’s electricity market for lack of payment, according to a market notice which was posted last Friday.

Haugen believes companies should be more transparent and consultative with residential customers. “The Texas wholesale market is complex, and I think they oversimplified and often downplayed the risk by saying that over time a customer would save money even though they may occasionally see higher bills when wholesale rates go up. There are tools we use on the wholesale side to mitigate risk and models we use to forecast and understand what drives higher market rates. Without those, you don’t understand the financial risk of being on a wholesale market-based rate.”

IGS Energy regularly works with customers to educate them on the intricacies and complexities of the market, so they’re informed customers. “That empowers them to take control of their energy consumption while becoming responsible energy users,” Haugen explains. “As an energy company committed to fighting climate change, our strengths lie in being experts on wholesale energy markets and managing the risks associated with them for our customers. We are focused on bringing renewable generation directly to our customers. We believe the climate is changing and we can be a part of changing the way that consumers get their electricity. We also look to the future by piloting and developing new technologies and products that can manage cost and increase grid reliability.”

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Cheryl Snapp Conner

Cheryl Snapp Conner is founder and CEO of SnappConner PR and creator of Content University™. She is a popular speaker, author and columnist.