There’s no Drought About It: Lack of Rain in Texas Stirs Energy Concerns

In the society that we live in today, there are many figures and aspects that would just not be the same or function orderly without its dependent partner. Bonnie and Clyde, Batman and Robin, Brooks and Dunn, Abbott and Costello, and even PB& J are a few well-acclaimed ones that come to mind. Who would’ve ever thought that energy and water could be coupled together along with the other previous examples mentioned? Well the truth of the matter is that power plants require thousands of gallons of water a day to cool off their systems. And with the combination of the atrocious hot summers in Texas and the recent droughts occurring in the region, issues have arisen to the surface dealing with these situations and their consequences.

Bud Abbott and Lou Costello

Last Thursday, Texas Coalition for Water,Energy and Economic Security hosted a legislative briefing that took place at the capitol in Austin addressing energy and water issues. Guest speakers Dr. Gammon, Dr. King, Mark Armentrout, Cris Eugster and Kevin Tuerff all spoke about these concerns and issues as well as vocalized their solutions.

As the leadoff man, Dr. Gammon opened up the briefing by touching up on his forte climatology and how the local drought has taken a toll on Texas. Although Dr. Gammon offered some sign of relief when he claimed that we should not see the same drought of summer 2011 soon, he did add that there are still severe droughts ahead of us. Dr. King, Research Associate, Center for International Energy, stressed on how critical water is to power plants and that water rights in the region need to be more clear-cut. Dr. King shared his personal short-term goals, which were to have more education and conservation plans. He also proposed his long-term solution of implementing more renewable fuels such as wind and solar considering they don’t necessarily require cooling.

Mark Armentrout, former ERCOT board chairman, and Cris Eugster, Executive Vice-President of CPS Energy followed up on the briefing by adding their own separate opinions about the dilemma of energy and water.  Armentrout spoke about smart grid applications, which would allow people to see their electric cost data from their house. He also underlined the effects of rolling blackouts including the monetary side of it. According to Mr. Armentrout, the United States loses close to 80 billion dollars a year from rolling blackouts.

Einstein Bros Bagel store in Texas temporarily closed due to rolling blackouts in the area.

Being the Executive Vice-President of CPS energy, Cris Eugster offered confidence that increasing energy efficiency and implementing more renewable projects are well within hands reach. Eugster stated that CPS energy, a utility company in San Antonio, is the number one utility in Texas in terms of wind power and water utility efficiency in the state.  In fact, CPS energy recently signed on to a project that is expected to result in 400 megawatts of solar energy. Eugster also added that San Antonio uses about the same amount of energy as they did twenty years ago even with the dramatic population change. Kevin Terff, President of EnviroMedia, capped off the briefing by speaking about conservation education and behavior change. Mr. Terff primarily touched on the fact that people would conserve more if they understood the education and basic logistics behind it. According to a study by Terff, 3/4 of Texans didn’t know the natural source of water coming from their homes.

When bringing it all together, their combined consensus revolved around creating goals including increasing energy efficiency, pursuing and investing more into renewable energy as well as creating a stronger energy and water conscious community. Taking accountability in these goals will help put us in the right direction.

Related Links :Energy-Water Nexus in Texas, Trends and Policy Issues For The Nexus of Energy and Water, Social Impacts of Climate on Texas, Public Utility Commission Conservation Alerts, TexasEfficiency.com, CEE.org

– Jarred Garza, Sierra Club Beyond Coal Intern

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One response to “There’s no Drought About It: Lack of Rain in Texas Stirs Energy Concerns

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