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A Deep Dive into Texas’ Energy Market Trends


Texas is one of the most solar-friendly states, boasting 14 GW of installed solar capacity and a country-leading 90-GW solar pipeline. In 2022, Texas produced 4.3% of its electricity from solar, which is expected to more than double by 2033 to 10%. Renowned for its booming population, challenging climate, and dynamic energy landscape, the Lone Star State has experienced radical shifts in its energy market trends. From escalating utility prices to policies encouraging solar and storage adoption and the impacts of extreme weather events on grid reliability, this article explores the multifaceted aspects shaping Texas’ bright energy future.

Utility Price Hikes to Meet Rising Population and Industrial Demand

Between 2021 and 2024, over a million individuals chose Texas as their new home, with nearly half a million people settling in 2023 alone, as per the U.S. Census Bureau. The state's population has now surpassed 30 million, with only California having more residents. This demographic surge, coupled with increasing demands from the industrial sector, has put a dire strain on the Texas grid. Moreover, traditional natural gas, coal, and nuclear power plants have experienced a reduction in power capacity over the past three years, further widening the gap between supply and demand.

To address this escalating demand, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) introduced a “Contingency Reserve Service” last June to create rapid deployment emergency power reserves during high-demand scenarios, such as summer heat waves. Unfortunately, these reserves were established by redirecting electricity generation from the regular market, contributing to an estimated $8 billion surge in utility prices last summer. By the end of 2023, ERCOT consumers had been burdened with a staggering $12.5 billion in overcharges since mid-June.

In addition, commercial and industrial customers have two major components in their energy bills: energy and demand. ERCOT market has a Four Coincident Peak tariff program to cover these demand charges.  2022 was a record year for peak demand, exceeding the massive demand from Winter Storm Uri of 2021. The intent of the 4CP program is to allocate costs fairly and send price signals to industrial customers to optimize their peak demand. The 4CP charge is a significant line item in the utility bills of industrial customers eg, a peak demand in 0.01% of the year drives 30% of costs.

CenterPoint Energy also submitted a proposal to the Public Utility of Texas in December 2023 seeking a 45% annual rate increase from 3.76 cents per kWh in March 2023 to 5.46 cents per kWh starting February 2024. These utility price hikes will cover the necessary costs of new transmission lines, infrastructure repairs, and the winterization of facilities to safeguard against extreme weather conditions and maintain a safe and reliable distribution system.

Texas Policies and Incentives for Onsite Solar and Storage

Amidst the energy price increases, Texas has emerged as a frontrunner for solar energy adoption. With a commendable 18,000MW of installed solar capacity, capable of powering 1.9 million homes, the state actively champions various clean energy initiatives. In Texas’ deregulated energy market, local utility companies offer incentives to boost affordable solar energy production, as opposed to state-wide programs.

One noteworthy incentive is the Texas property tax exemption for residential and commercial renewable energy systems, which covers 100% of the appraised value of the solar system and batteries. Many electricity providers in Texas, such as Austin Energy, El Paso Electric, CPS Energy, and United Cooperative Services, also offer community solar incentives to promote renewable energy for consumers and businesses alike. Net-metering is also available from most local utilities for customers to sell their excess solar energy back to the grid.

Weathering the Storms to Maintain Grid Reliability

Texas' energy landscape, while abundant and diverse, has its challenges, particularly when it comes to extreme weather events. The historic Winter Storm Uri of 2021 left an undeniable mark, triggering widespread rolling blackouts that left millions freezing and in the dark as natural gas generators failed, leading to at least 246 deaths, mainly due to hypothermia. The devastating natural disaster prompted legislative mandates for utilities to weatherize their facilities against severe weather conditions and install more traditional gas-fueled plants that can come online immediately (unlike intermittent solar and wind).

Despite the extra preparedness since Winter Storm Uri, ERCOT has reported an alarming 17% chance of another catastrophic grid emergency if a major winter storm hits Texas this year. This heightened risk, compounded by the state’s rapid population growth and relatively stagnant energy supply, places a heavy strain on an already precarious situation. As Texas currently heavily relies on solar and wind energy to bridge the demand gap, the vulnerability of these systems to experience damage from winter storms leads to a high risk of grid failure. Consequently, in October 2023, ERCOT requested companies to reactivate old gas and coal-fired plants  to manage this “unacceptable risk” of power cuts and emergency services.

This year has already begun with record-breaking demand during an arctic cold blast in the early weeks of January 2024, with wind chills below zero degrees across most of the state. These sub-freezing temperatures can cause pipes to snap and tree limbs to fall on power lines, leading to grid failure. With wind being unseasonably low, resulting in lower wind energy output, ERCOT had to ask residents to conserve power to avoid rolling blackouts. In 2023, ERCOT voluntarily asked Texans to conserve their power more than ten times, with that being the hottest year ever recorded in Texas, averaging 68.1 degrees.

ERCOT’s Efficient Interconnection Approach Risks Higher Curtailment Rates

Despite the absence of state-level clean energy requirements, Texas has become the leader in renewable energy development in the United States, operating an impressive 13.9 GW of solar capacity and 41.4 GW of wind power. According to the latest S&P Global Market Intelligence Power Forecast, the state’s favorable economics have propelled Texas to have the country's leading solar pipeline at an astounding 90 GW.

The Texas grid operator ERCOT seamlessly interconnected 6 GW of renewables in 2021, outperforming the country’s largest grid operator PJM (Pennsylvania-New Jersey-Maryland Interconnection) by three times and with a wider margin A key factor contributing to ERCOT’s impressive efficiency and fast interconnection speed is its adoption of a “connect and manage” approach, in contrast to the “invest and connect” method followed by most other U.S. grid operators. “Invest and connect” requires proposed generators to deliver load during severe grid conditions, often necessitating extensive grid upgrades that can make renewable projects financially unviable and cause prolonged interconnection delays for years. Industry leaders from Clearway Energy Group and Enel North America have advocated for using ERCOT’s ultra-efficient “connect and manage” process for large-scale renewable energy and storage projects in regional transmission planning requests for the Network Resource Interconnection Service (NRIS).

While ERCOT’s streamlined approach expedites interconnection processes, it also introduces a higher risk of curtailment during emergency conditions. This added uncertainty influences project revenue forecasts, especially for hybrid projects that include storage. Under ERCOT’s energy-only market, there is no compensation for storage capacity, posing a unique challenge for hybrid projects. As more of these solar-plus-storage projects enter the interconnection queues, potential solutions include allowing hybrid developers to submit a separate NRIS application limited to the nameplate rating of the storage.

REC prices forecasted to decline but not dampening the aggressive solar pipeline rampup

Texas has a renewable portfolio standard and requires energy providers achieve 10,000 MW of renewable energy by 2025. Though this target was reached in 2011, the Texas renewable market continues to grow aggressively first with significant ramp up in wind and now solar. The RECs (renewable energy credits) have remained historically low in Texas. The surge in corporate interest over the past year has led to a REC price uptick, creating an additional revenue stream to drive renewable energy development across the state.

S&P Global Market Intelligence forecasts a dimmer market outlook for 2024 and beyond with REC prices projected to go down. In 2024, energy revenue is expected to hit a low at $24.86/MWh, but subsequent years exhibit an upward trajectory, reaching $32.30/MWh by 2031. LevelTen Energy Inc analysis shows the current power purchase agreements in ERCOT hover around $27/MWh, signifying a gradual increase from the previous year.  The long-term financial outlook for the solar projects continues to be attractive ramping up the solar development pipeline.

Innovative Onsite Energy as a Service (EaaS) to Expedite C&I Solar Development

To successfully navigate Texas’ complex energy landscape, innovative solutions and a strategic approach to renewable energy development are crucial for sustaining a reliable and affordable energy future. Onsite Energy as a Service (EaaS) empowers Commercial and Industrial (C&I) clients to reap the benefits of an onsite solar microgrid without assuming any risk or upfront capital.

By partnering with GreenStruxure, a leading EaaS provider, the entire process of designing, financing, constructing, operating, and maintaining the energy system is taken care of throughout the duration of the EaaS contract. In return, the client simply pays a monthly service fee, akin to a conventional energy bill that is based on the solar system's performance.

Connect with our team of energy experts to explore how our revolutionary EaaS solution can secure cost-effective and predictable clean energy, improve your bottom line, and fast-track your journey toward decarbonization.