From Alyssa Wallace, Commission Shift Field Organizer
The Texas Energy Mini-Summit was hosted in Austin, Texas on February 22, 2023. Its aim was to provide a “discussion on grid resilience with a focus on flexible demand and energy efficiency; transportation, EVs, and air quality; and the energy transition in Texas.”
Jane Stricker the SVP of Greater Houston Partnership and Director of Houston Energy Transition Initiative (HETI), opened the summit with key thoughts on energy in Texas and how to maintain Texas’ global energy leadership. Stricker stated that Texas has been the global energy leader for over 100 years as it is the top producer of oil and natural gas. Additionally, Texas is the first in the nation for renewable power and it produces more electricity than any other state. While Stricker believes the expansion of energy leadership in Texas leads to more jobs and thus more benefits to Texans, it is important to note that HETI’s idea of energy transition still relies heavily on the oil and gas industry to lead that transition. Stricker stated the importance of ”emissions reducing innovations” to the energy transition, which include Carbon Capture Utilization and Sequestration. Ideally, this transition would enable our energy system to react to energy demands and allow investments and infrastructure to supply energy to ensure longer term economic development and environmental safeguards.
Stricker highlighted that due to changing global context such as conflicts affecting the global energy markets and increased economic uncertainty and a volatile pricing market, it falls to Texas to provide resilient and affordable energy abundance at scale. The Houston Energy Transition Initative’s vision includes a committee of upwards of 20 members including industry giants BP, Chevron, TC Energy, and NRG Energy to guide efforts.Their strategy leverages technologies, policies and market incentives that would “create and drive sustainable and equitable economic growth for the region.”
The following two panels were centered on Energy, Transportation and Air Quality. The first panel offered perspectives from innovative companies on the energy transition which was moderated by Micalah Spenrath, Texas Advanced Energy Business Alliance. The panelists were Mark Stover with APEX Clean Energy, Bobby Cherian with Hylion and Carmen Best with Recurve. They each discussed initiatives and products that would help in reducing emissions and cutting costs for consumers.
The second Energy, Transportation and Air Quality panel discussed how to connect transportation, the Grid and emissions reductions. This panel was moderated by Crystal Perkins with the Department of Energy and the panelists included Dr. Joe Zietsman, Deputy Agency Director of Texas Transportation Institute, Dr. Daniel Cohan, Associate Professor at Rice University, and Eddy Trevino, Director of the State Energy Conservation Office. This panel highlighted the need of combining efforts from the energy and transportation sectors to reduce emissions.
Finally, the last panel was moderated by Doug Lewin. Featured panelists included Representative Drew Darby, Representative Vikki Goodwin, Commissioner Kathleen Jackson of the Public Utility Commission, and Senator Jose Menedez. This panel discussed policy implications as it relates to cutting down on COs emissions and roles of state agencies. Representative Darby’s focus will be on what it will take to provide Texans with jobs, energy access, and clean drinking water. He also stated that urban Texas cannot run without rural Texas and it is his focus to make sure that rural communities have the resources they need. Rep. Darby cited his bill HB 1254 which would help ease and speed the process of creating new transmission lines. Representative Darby is also interested in geothermal, CCUS, advancing clean technology to be included in definitions and receive program dollars. Darby is also looking to expand the Railroad Commission’s governing allowance and perhaps liability when it comes to those matters.