PEC Board Members Committing Political Suicide?

 

guest columnrichard golladay with cat revised

By Richard Golladay

When a new public consciousness emerges which is counter to older, established “norms”, politicians who fail to make the transition are harshly judged, and find themselves seeking new employment.  And those politicians who are the most overt in their reaction to paradigm changes will be the first to go

We now have two opposing worldviews in collision in our Texas energy culture:  The old established worldview is natural gas/coal fired generation and the companies that operate those assets and supply them with fuel – which entities have been supplying most of our energy for 80 years.  These companies are now shaking in their boots as they witness municipalities like Georgetown Texas abandon them entirely for “renewables”.  They believe they have everything to lose if this trend extends itself to (heaven forbid) Electric Co-ops.  But the specter of “climate change” is looming ever more strongly in the  public conscience.  (That’s because it’s a fact.)  So they enlist professional “debunkers” and politicians to protect themselves.  (Witness organizations like ALEC, Americans for Prosperity, Heartland Institute,  and Koch Industries.)

The polar opposite “worldview” is that of the radical environmentalist, who believes all fossil fuels should be phased out immediately and replaced by “renewables”, to save the planet.

As I have observed the PEC Board for the last three years, I observe three, and possibly four Directors apparently guided by the old mindset – but none by radical environmentalists.  

Could there be a middle position?  Most definitely “yes”.  What the Georgetown utility has done was to write contracts for “renewables”, but on the ERCOT grid, when the wind is not blowing and the sun is not shining, wholesale power is purchased from whoever is supplying at market value.  Having a major utility purchasing 100%  renewables 100% of the time is a fantasy.  And would such a radical position ever be taken by PEC?  Highly unlikely with any Board.

But a polarization nevertheless exists now in a divided PEC Board, with is unhealthy for all of PEC’s  members.  The four in the former camp are seeking to change voting rules – which if successful, will have no other effect than making life easier for rich elitists. (The Koch bros would love it.)  In doing so they could well turn the Co-op from a  democracy into an oligarchy.  And if they succeed we will eventually have a less robust grid, subject to higher rates if not actual power curtailments, because of a less diverse energy supply.

Someone once  said:  “It is never right to do wrong to achieve what you think is right”.  But apparently operating according to this unhealthy ethic, they are presently so well entrenched and funded there may be no way of  stopping them.  Their paradigm is eroding, however.  Reality has a way of righting wrongs.

The traditional energy companies have many years left to  sell their products.  For example, electric vehicles will never replace gasoline and diesel vehicles for most transportation and  commerce.  And natural gas will continue to be the mainstay of  our electric  grid.  O&G is not the bugaboo.  Rather, an all-or-nothing domination, mixed with climate change denial and political muscle-man antics is the real bugaboo.  That paradigm is a dying mindset, offensive to most Texans, and is in the process of becoming a political corpse.

I hate to see otherwise good people with conservative values commit political suicide by chaining themselves to a corpse.   My advice to two particular individuals on this Board: Remember David Dewhurst before it’s too late.

Richard Golladay is a Republican and PEC member living near Marble Falls.

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4 thoughts on “PEC Board Members Committing Political Suicide?

  1. Richard, Thanks for highlighting these issues. i would like to suggest though you be more specific in identifying the board members who are doing these things. Call them out! Unfortunately, its hard to keep up with the meetings so your summary of board member positions would be quiet helpful.

    Also, i’d like to take issue with a few things you stated –

    100% renewable energy is not a radical view. Its a goal. We don’t reach goals by coming up with reasons not to start. As power plants can operate for 25, 30, 40 years the transition to clean energy sources must start (as it has) and as we have deeper penetration of these resources the problems will be worked out. You don’t necessarily fix the problems before they occur! Natural gas pairs with renewables very nicely and will needed for many years to come. I agree this is not an all or none battle, and most renewable advocates never say it is. When someone views ‘what makes sense’ as ‘radical’ we need a reset.

    The other point i take issue is that electric vehicles will never replace gas/diesel for most transportation. Its seems clear to me that they will, and this is coming very quickly. Actually, for anyone in the utility industry this is a great business opportunity that will keeps the utilities relevant. Considering the amount of energy used by vehicles, its unlikely that a member will be able to generate enough solar from a roof top install to meet this nightime charging demand. The grid and big centralized power producers will generate this energy. (hopefully from wind and storage technologies) Understand that presently, PEC makes its $ from kWhs but the infrastructure costs are based on PEAK demand. If you can utilize the infrastructure to deliver more kWh and reduce the peak, that means a greater returns from the investment. Or a lower $/kwh for distribution costs.

    Its been sad to see the heel dragging from PEC on the adoption of renewable energy. Especially in light of the member surveys which show highly favorable support for movement in this area. I believe it was 40% of the member supported a goal of 100% renewables from the latest surveys for cost of service. Just imagine if they asked instead “would you support a goal of 50% renewable energy”. There is a mandate from the member to adopt new cheaper forms of energym yet it appears that PEC does not like the answers to their questions.

    What is the reasoning behind joining the CPP lawsuit? grid reliability? I believe the members of the coop value responsible and clean power generation. What are we really getting out of this lawsuit?

    Last complaint: A solar loan program targeting 100 members/yr seems like a half hearted attempt to do even the minimum. There are 280,000 meters and you target 100 for solar loans. I’d like to see someone’s bonus dependent on getting 10,000 solar producers. Be proactive and lead!

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  2. Voting record for authority to File Amicus Brief against EPA Clean Power Plan:
    AYES: Emily Pataki, Paul Graf, Amy Lea SJ Akers, James Oakley
    NAYS: Cristi Clement, Kathryn Scanlon, Chris Perry

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  3. A case in point about renewables not being able to supply 100% of power 100% of the time occurred May 4, 2016. Here it is at 9:00 pm. No solar, of course because it’s night, and ERCOT wind total has backed off on this still peaceful evening to barely over 500 MW, when ERCOT load is 42,500 MW. Wind nameplate installed capacity is around 18,000 MW, but sitting mostly idle at this time.

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