What are the challenges?

Increasing Electricity Demand

Commercial HVACThe demand for energy in the Dallas-Fort Worth region seems to be ever increasing.  There are more homes and businesses being built that need electricity, and more gadgets in our lives that need to be plugged in and charged.  This is also an area that experiences extreme weather – temperatures can climb well over 100°F in the summer and reach the teens in the winter.  Sometimes, the demand for heating and cooling is simply too great and overloads the power grid, resulting in rolling blackouts and longer-term blackouts.  This is a problem that requires a multi-faceted solution, from electricity supply at the state level to demand reduction at the local level.

Transitioning Away from Fossil Fuels

DFW TrafficAs more people move to the region, we have more and more cars and trucks on the road, since this is the main means of transportation by a wide margin.  Gasoline and diesel prices are tied to a market that sees really large price swings, and they increase our country’s dependence on foreign oil.  They also threaten natural resources, and result in increased air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.  While there are other alternative fuel vehicles and electric vehicles, the vast majority of the cars and trucks on the market use fossil fuels.

The electricity sector fairs a little better in Texas, largely due to an abundance of wind energy, which supplies about 10% of the electricity needs of the state.  In fact, Texas has the most wind energy capacity of any state and the potential for much more.  Despite the enormous potential for solar energy in Texas, there is very little installed to date, however, renewable energy technology is improving, and the price is dropping.  For the time being, we are largely dependent on natural gas and coal for our electricity.

Big Brown

Big Brown coal power plant in Freestone County, Texas

While natural gas power plants emit less pollution than coal plants, they emit methane, which is a greenhouse gas that traps much more heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, but has a much shorter life-span.  They also threaten natural resources – coal must be mined, and most natural gas comes from the controversial practice of fracking.  Additionally, Texas only has lignite coal, which is a low-grade coal that produces less energy and more pollutants than higher-grade coal.

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