(May 4, 2020)
Many Texas cities continue to search for methods to decarbonize the state’s electricity grid. In San Antonio, Texas, customers are served by the nation’s largest municipally-owned utility, CPS Energy. Meanwhile, Houston has been home to a highly competitive deregulated energy market for the past two decades.
These two Lone Star State cities provide an interesting comparison when it comes to looking at how communities in Texas are working to modernize the electricity grid to cut carbon emissions. Which model comes out on top?
Chris Tomlinson at the Houston Chronicle believes San Antonio leads the way. CPS “is proving nimbler than private competitors,” he argued. “The key to the Alamo City’s success was a decision made decades ago to keep its municipally-owned utility rather than adopt a competitive retail electricity market.”
Tomlinson acknowledges that private competition in the power generation market has proven a success. It has allowed prices in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) service area to drop to the lowest in the country, while at the same time helping the Lone Star State to take a leading position in wind power production.
However, he is less impressed by the impact of the private sector on the retail market. The fact that CPS owns everything down to the customer’s meter has enabled the municipally-owned utility to more easily adopt energy efficient technology.
In addition, it has been able to install batteries capable of storing energy when demand is low so that it can be released when demand increases. “In competitive markets, that would be illegal,” he added.