A new piece in the Houston Chronicle says “transmission is the latest front” in the battle for renewable energy subsidies. They report that Calpine Corp. and NRG Energy have asked the state Public Utility Commission to change the way transmission costs are apportioned among power generators. This move, according to the Chronicle, would undo a key element of the policies that have made Texas the nation’s top producer of wind energy.
The story of Texas’ wind industry exposes a reliance on subsidies at all levels of government. In the case of the federal Production Tax Credit and state policies like Chapter 312 and Chapter 313, the generator receives the benefit directly. Residents and concerned taxpayers can see who benefits with relative ease, so long as they know where to look. Tracking down how much an entity benefits can be tough under Chapter 312, where reporting requirements are lax and exemptions from public information laws are made.
The benefits received from artificially cheap transmission is even less direct than subsidies mentioned before and, like the others, goes primarily to wind and solar generators that produce far from Texas’ population centers most. But, like all subsidies, these costs are passed directly along to everyday Texans.
The current system hides the true cost of renewable energy and subsidizes harm to the state electric grid. Renewables should pay their fair share, not hide their cost from ratepayers in crony tax schemes and socialized transmission.