A commentary posted today in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram by Tom Smith, director of Public Citizen’s Texas office, is misleading, inaccurate and not surprising. This is just the latest verse of the same tired song Public Citizen has been singing for more than two years.
Let’s fill in the record with the facts: Power costs in Texas would go up under the Clean Power Plan proposed rule; even the Environmental Protection Agency has acknowledged this. A study by National Economic Research Associates Economic Consulting estimates that EPA’s proposal could raise electricity prices in Texas on average 27 percent, relative to a base case without the rule.
The claims by Public Citizen about our power plants, as usual, are just wrong. All of our plants meet or exceed the requirements of all state and federal emissions standards, a fact we’re proud of.
Yet in 2013, Public Citizen and a small group of physicians with the Dallas County Medical Society demanded the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality order three of our coal plants to install cost prohibitive equipment even though the air quality in North Texas is becoming cleaner, an indication existing laws and rules are working. What Smith fails to mention is TCEQ denied the activists request then and again this year with the TCEQ stating their demand was “not justified.”
Those three Luminant plants generate enough electricity to power more than one million Texas homes in periods of peak demand like we saw Thursday in Texas. Public Citizen claims a report by a Rice University associate professor shows they could simply be replaced by solar and wind power. What Public Citizen consistently leaves out is that the same report found replacing these three plants with wind and solar would cost $56 billion and $40 billion, respectively. That’s savings?
At Luminant, we’re a large purchaser of wind and also generate power using coal, natural gas and nuclear energy. We believe a diverse mix of energy is best for providing affordable AND reliable power in Texas’ competitive market because the different fuel sources complement each other.
That balanced mix across the Electric Reliability Council of Texas worked dependably this week when demand set all-time records for July. Notably, base load fuels like coal, gas and nuclear ultimately met the demand, especially on Thursday as ERCOT said, “We are expecting less wind generation during today’s peak.”
We certainly share in everyone’s concern and desire for cleaner air. Don’t be fooled by the claims of activists who make misleading, unrealistic demands that would lead to higher power costs. Luminant’s plants are generating affordable power in an environmentally responsible way as we do our part in keeping the lights and those air conditioners on.