Elizabeth Lippincott, executive director of the Texas Clean Energy Coalition, explains to readers at The American Conservative how Texas’ deregulated electricity market can be a model for the nation. She writes (abridged):
As price competition from natural gas and renewables continues to depress U.S. demand for coal, policy discussions in Washington, D.C. and in Appalachian coal country have moved beyond loosening environmental controls and into more direct forms of economic intervention.
They should instead be looking to Texas, where a deregulated electric market has highlighted the benefits of a market-based approach.
Under conservative leadership from former governors George W. Bush and Rick Perry, starting in the late 1990s, Texas moved to deregulate its electric market.
Texas’s energy policy choices are paying off.
Recent studies by The Brattle Group, commissioned by the center-right Texas Clean Energy Coalition (TCEC), found that market forces like low prices for natural gas and solar PV—not federal environmental regulations—are the primary factors driving the ERCOT electric grid away from coal and toward cleaner fuels like natural gas and renewable energy.
Wall Street analysts agree that long-term economic forces are working against any federal effort to bail out the U.S. coal industry. They identify the advanced age and inefficiency of many coal-fired power plants; long-term regulatory uncertainty that discourages investment in new coal plants; and, most importantly, sustained price competition from cheap natural gas, as the major economic factors that make a U.S. coal renaissance highly unlikely.
Texas is a model of how free energy markets allow cheaper, cleaner power to thrive.
The rightward shift in the national environmental policy landscape places Texas and its market-driven clean energy transition at the forefront of new discussions about environmental regulation and electric markets.
Read more here.