For nearly a century, Texas has met its energy challenges with trailblazing solutions. The Rural Electrification Administration was created in 1935. In the same year, Bartlett Electric Cooperative in Bartlett, Texas began laying line to supply power to 110 rural farms. In doing so, they became the first rural electric cooperative in the United States. Texas was also the first and only state to deregulate their grid. Since the 1990s the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) has maintained the grid and the Texas interconnection. This accounts for 90% of Texas power load.
That sort of innovative thinking continues into the 21st century as the energy landscape of Texas becomes more diverse and complex. The state leads the country in both fossil-fueled and renewable energy production. Even so, demand continues to outpace supply. House Bill 1500 and the PUC performance credit mechanism are the latest efforts to create a reliable, secure energy supply by leveraging energy storage and dispatchable energy solutions.
The state didn’t become an energy trailblazer by accident. Nor do industry leaders shirk the job of creating and maintaining new solutions. However, even the most successful electric cooperatives and their leaders need support.
Support for electric cooperatives
Texas Electric Cooperatives (TEC) is a non-profit statewide association which was founded in 1941 to support the needs of electric cooperatives across the state. Today they serve as a voice for the 76 member cooperatives in matters related to legislation, regulation, and other issues affecting the electric cooperative industry. They also provide a variety of services to their members, including government relations, advocacy, education and training, safety programs, and cooperative development assistance.
The primary objective of TEC is to promote the cooperative business model and support the success of its member cooperatives. Through collaboration and shared resources, TEC aims to help electric cooperatives provide reliable, affordable, and sustainable electric service to their members while adhering to cooperative principles of democratic governance and community involvement.
RECs are the backbone of rural Texas. The support from TEC is essential as Texas RECs work to meet the growing needs of their members and communities.
Texas energy challenges
TEC and its members have a lot of work to do. While the energy market is shifting nationally, there are certain challenges which are felt more keenly in Texas.
- Size and Scale: The vast geographical area and varying population sizes create significant demands for electricity. Meeting the energy needs of such a large and growing population is a complex task.
- Weather Variability: Heatwaves and high electricity demand during peak summer months can strain the energy grid. Severe weather events, such as hurricanes and winter storms, can also disrupt energy infrastructure, leading to power outages and supply disruptions.
- Coincident Peaks: Predicting and reacting to CP demand is universally important. However, in Texas the 4 coincident peaks determine more than just the 15-minutes of peak demand in June, July, August and September. 4CP is used to calculate important yearly rates and tariffs.
- Energy Market Structure: The unique market structure, deregulation, and the reliance on competitive wholesale markets can create complexities in managing supply and maintaining grid reliability.
- Renewable Energy Integration: Texas is a national leader in renewable energy, particularly wind power. However, integrating intermittent renewable sources can disrupt grid stability. Balancing renewable energy generation with traditional sources to ensure grid reliability is an ongoing challenge.
- Population changes: Texas is now home to 30 million people. While urban cities and counties across the state recorded some of the highest rates of growth in the US, not all areas are growing. Dozens of counties in West and South Texas saw population loss. This population instability will continue to impact demand.
TEC offers support and advocacy
While meeting these challenges, Texas co-ops keep the lights on for 2 million homes and businesses. As those co-ops work hard to do that, TEC supports them in a variety of ways and at all levels. They provide education and training resources to keep workers safe out in the field and advance their careers. Beyond that, TEC embraces the cooperative ideal with a variety of manufacturing and distribution services as well as electrical utility products and repair services. As a unified voice for cooperative interests, the organization is also actively engaged in the legislative process.
All of these resources are essential to the continued success of Texas RECs, but that’s not all. Additionally, Texas Electric Cooperatives see the value in connecting cooperative leaders with business partners in the industry. It’s through their Business Alliance Program that we are proud to be affiliated with TEC and its members.
Texas Electric Cooperatives Business Alliance Program
We want to support the people of Texas in meeting their energy goals. It’s important to us to create and maintain strong relationships with RECs. Through our membership in the Business Alliance Program, we can support TEC’s important work while also maintaining those partnerships across the state. For us, it’s a win-win situation. By attending TEC events, we can stay up to date with the Texas industry. If we know how the industry is doing, then we can continue tailoring our solutions to fit the specific needs of Texas RECs.
Perceptive Power Infrastructure designs distributed generation solutions with Texas in mind. We know that distributed energy resources can solve challenges, but only if done right. In fact, our name says it all. The solutions that we design are perceptive. We think along with our partners rather than thinking for them. This is especially important in Texas, where the industry is so unique. Thankfully, we have people on the team who understand how things work at Texas RECs, like former co-op CEO Gary Hurse.
As Texas leads the way in energy innovation, we look forward to being a part of the changes. Keep an eye out for us at the TEC 83rd Annual Meeting. Let’s work together to power communities and empower members.