Houston hosts 1st ever Texas Power Grid Summit, aimed at helping grid

Tom Abrahams Image
Wednesday, February 7, 2024
Houston hosts 1st ever Texas Power Grid Summit
The first-ever Texas Power Grid summit is in Houston, with power companies and investors building new power plants to help fix the power grid.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- It'll take about $10 billion to help fix the Texas power grid. And in November, you voted to allow the state to loan that much money to private investors so they could build new gas-powered plants. On Tuesday, some of those potential investors are in Houston at the first-ever Texas Power Grid Summit.

The grid is still tenuous. It needs help. With more people moving to the state every day, the stress on the grid grows, and so does the need to build more power plants.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick asked the financial services company Blackrock to put together the potential players who could invest in the grid. In this room, $2.2 trillion of potential investment.

"We have people at the table that we never would have had without this conference," Patrick said. "There is a great possibility the solution is in the room. The money is in the room. This is a combination of a public-private partnership, and it came about in an odd way."

That odd way was a bill which blacklisted companies like Blackrock for their focus on environmental and social issues. Blackrock found out about it, and its CEO Larry Fink met with Patrick to talk about it. Those conversations led to this summit.

"Our goal is to build a power system that can meet the needs for the next century for Texas," Fink said.

On the table are $10 billion in low-interest loans for companies to build new gas power plants within the next four years. Texans approved the money in November's election.

"Texans have spoken very clearly," State Sen. Charles Schwertner said. "This is a unique investment opportunity and a unique investment destination for electric generation. It's an incentive package to kickstart what Texas needs."

The package could build 10 megawatts of electricity, enough to continuously power 8,000 to 10,000 homes. Mayor John Whitmire calls it a huge first step in alleviating the anxiety Texans feel every time the mercury soars or plummets.

"I know ERCOT has been reformed," Whitmire said. "I know the PUC is on the job. But we have got to have the private sector. We have got to have the investment community. We have got to come together and reduce the anxiety."

The application process opens later this year; the state may have more interest than it can handle if the people who showed up to the summit are any indication.

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