On this Salcedo Storm Podcast: Pablo Vegas joined ERCOT in October 2022 as President and CEO. He has a long history of service in both the electric and gas industries. Before his career in the regulated utility industry, Mr. Vegas served in senior leadership positions with IBM, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Andersen Consulting.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
Think I’ve shared this story before, on least on the Salcedo show, I’m not sure if I’ve shared it here on the podcast, I must have at some point, because what the podcast is now what we’re going on almost two years old. So I can’t believe it’s been that long. I really I can’t focus about the story I’m going to share, I’m going to take you back to Snowmageddon.
This is in February of 2021, when, when Texas was just slammed with a massive winter storm, it was bad. And we had an over reliance with 25% of our grid over reliant on so called renewables. And when the sun stops shining, and the wind stopped blowing was because the turbines were all frozen. All of a sudden, 25% of our power was offline. And then And then because the wellheads of the natural gas wells were not winterized, they froze over.
And that stopped natural gas from from flowing, and we had massive rolling blackouts. I remember sitting in the dark for four days, seeing my own breath. In in my living room, my family freezing bundled up trying anything we could do to stay warm. It was like we were back in a third world country. 250 Texans died from exposure during the Snowmageddon storm in a first world country, allegedly in a first world state.
And I said to myself, at the time, I was going to do everything I could to make sure that we figured out what the problem was and how to solve it. And here’s what at least the problem that I was able to determine is yes, the the winterization of the wellheads needed to happen to natural gas. But what I come to find out after Snowmageddon is that not only did Texas go, Oh my gosh, we are too heavily reliant on green energy, so called green energy, you know, the toxic the toxic chemicals and compounds that go into creating solar panels, the non biodegradable materials used for these fan blades.
Not only we read over reliant on that 25%, I learned that Texas was continuing to expand our over reliance, not contract expand, it was forecast to go to 33%. And now I am told we are approaching 40% of the Texas grid is being run by unreliable, so called renewable green energy. I don’t want anybody to misunderstand. I like the technology. But as a supplemental, there is no way that I would be greedy enough or stupid enough to bank the lives of Texans on unreliable power.
The good thing for us is, Texas has a huge supply of natural gas, we have probably the biggest supply of the 50 states of natural gas here in Texas, we could be putting our people to work, we could be putting our best foot forward and creating economic opportunity for our people and expanding our economy by making sure we have licensed and permitted natural gas power plants.
That’s what they call dispatchable power meaning you flip a switch and tada the power is there. And that’s what you need to base human life on. Not unreliable green energy not to mention human life but business you can’t run a business if you don’t know you’re gonna have power next week. And folks, our reliance on green energy, the over reliance on green energy is going to start costing our economy. It’s already cost us lives. It will cost us more lives in the future. It will cost us economic prosperity. When the rest of the states go oh man, just like California, Texas can’t keep the light on.
So this is the problem. And here’s the big issue is Obama money Barack Hussein Obama set up this bastardized market, where you have a whole bunch of federal taxpayer dollars, putting in all of these, all of these subsidies to make people want to say, hey, yeah, I’ll turn over my land to wind and solar and all this kind of stuff. And you get all this so called free money, and you’re making money hand over fist.
And all you’re willing to do when you do that is to, you know, put the lives of your fellow Texans at risk. So I have said, what a good solution to that is the Obama distortion the Obama money is to make sure that if you’re going to partake in the greed and the Obama money, that if you turn over your land or build a solar farm or a wind farm, and you commit to, you know, four or five megawatts of power, that, okay, you’re you you do that you can take all the money, but you must have four to five megawatts of dispatchable power, ready to turn on on your property, so that you can win when the wind stops blowing and the sun stops shining, your commitment to the grid is always met.
And I think that’d be a good solution. It hasn’t been implemented because a lot of people are being bought off. But I think that would that would stop the perversion of the Obama money and get us to an economic prosperity model with very negligible environmental impact with natural gas power generation. We talk to the CEO of her cut up next on the Salcedo storm podcast.
Those of you around the country. You probably know or maybe you don’t we have three power grids, East Coast West Coast Texas grids. And a couple years back we endured a massive snowstorm in Texas, which led to massive power outages which led to a lot of people being without power for days on end. And 250 Texans paid with their lives. And there there were some evaluations done post Snowmageddon and this as I sat in my living room, unable to broadcast with my family freezing our rear ends off you get it was so cold in our in our living room. You can see our breath inside of our house it was it was pretty. It was pretty trying was pretty troubling. So since then, the status of our power grid and our energy stability in this country and in my home state of Texas has been top of mind and want to welcome to the program. Pablo Vegas he joined ERCOT which is the regulatory body in the state of Texas for energy in October of 2022 as president and CEO has a long history of service in both the electric and gas industries before his career in the regulated utility industry, Mr. Vega served in senior leadership positions with IBM Price Waterhouse Coopers and Anderson Consulting. Mr. Vegas. Welcome to the Salcedo stone podcast.
Good morning, Chris. Great to be with you this morning.
Great to have you served up through various reports. Post Snowmageddon, a storm that we lost 250 Texans due to exposure, which was just amazing to say in a first world country, Texas is over reliance on unreliable renewables. And wind, solar those of the examples that I use combined with non winterized heads of the natural gas wells, led to those deaths, and some Texans going without power for days, when last we really dug into this issue 25% of Texas’s power grid was based on so called renewables forecast to go to 33%. And now I’m told it’s forecast to go to 40%. Is that the Is that still the case?
Yes, that’s still the case, we’re still seeing tremendous growth on the Texas ERCOT grid of renewables of all types. And we’re also seeing a new resource type growing on the grid, batteries, energy storage, which are actually a very helpful resource, they have very unique properties and, and performance characteristics. But what we’re not seeing enough in this growth is the balance that bring that comes from dispatchable thermal generation that has duration. And so you know, at our cost, we love all the generation that we get, because it provides and supports Texans. But we need to make sure that we have a balance. And that because Texas is growing, it’s growing fast. And we need to make sure we meet that growth with a balanced portfolio that’s going to meet their needs at every day of the year under any weather condition, cold or hot. And that’s what we need to focus on. Chris.
No, you know what, and I completely agree. And I don’t want to have my my evaluation of renewables as being anti renewables. I think wind and solar are fantastic technologies that are developing, or that could be used as an addition to your baseload capacity. But I wouldn’t bank human life on on so called Green Energy Renewables. So our as you mentioned, our population is growing fast. Texas is abundant in natural gas, which as you know, is clean burning. How many natural gas power plants have which which we have an abundance here, the natural gas resource, how many power plants have been permitted, and commissioned to be built in the wake of the Snowmageddon disaster.
Not nearly as many as you would hope and expect. And I can, let me give you a little perspective, in terms of what’s coming on to the Texas grid, we, we manage at our top something called the generation interconnection queue. And that is where developers of generation resources express their intent to develop whatever kind of technology they’re gonna build, whether it’s solar, wind, batteries, gas plants, and we look ahead over the next four or five years into this queue to see who’s expressing interest. We have over 300,000 megawatts of expressed interest. And to put that into context, when we hit our peak this summer, we hit about 85,000 megawatts. So there’s a lot of expressed interest to develop resources on the Texas grid, of that 300,000 Over 250,000 of megawatts come from just two sources, solar and batteries. And then about probably 30 40,000 of wind, and then maybe about 12, or so 1000 of gas. So you can see in those proportions, where the interest is in developing in Texas. And that’s what we need to be focused on is we got to bring some balance back into that because only developing renewables are only developing duration limited resources, like batteries, is going to create a problem when you have long weather events that require extreme amount of power to serve Texans.
Pablo Vegas is with Erica, he’s the president and CEO there folks that is the energy regulatory body here in the state of Texas. You know, so let me ask you a question about about natural gas, why not more reliance on clean burning natural gas, it expands our economy. It enriches Texans, and it comes through for us. That’s the key it comes. It’s, as you call it dispatchable power, meaning you flip the switch and it’s there. It comes through for us when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining.
There are two things going on here, Chris, and both of them come directly from our friends in the federal government. The first is there is economic incentives that are given directly to the developers and owners and operators of renewable resources, as well as to battery developers. So you’ve got this economic finger on the scale pushing down and making it a lot a lot more profitable to build wind and solar and batteries. That’s one factor. And then the other thing going on as the federal government is proposing these EPA rules that are creating a significant chilling effect on the potential to develop actual gas, because it’s imposing very significant and strict restrictions on how gas can operate across the country. And both of those factors are leading to a kill in the development of natural gas burning generation. And, Chris, it’s not just happening in Texas. This is happening all over the United States. Yeah, yeah.
You know, folks, what you got to know is Barack Obama started this, and it’s continued into the Biden regime, with basically, and as we’ve detailed extensively on this program, the battery technology is is toxic, the the batteries, they don’t live forever. And we actually allowed breakthrough battery technology to walk out of the United States into the hands of Communist China, they would have would have changed his entire dynamic, but because our federal government is so bloated, and so big, Mr. Vegas, we just watched that that technology walk out the door. But what what he’s referring to folks is Obama, just through federal incentives distorting with federal subsidies, padding the pockets of people to switch over to unreliable sources of energy, it was Barack Obama’s distortion of our market that led to 250, Texans dying, and Snowmageddon. And so I guess I’m gonna ask you, Mr. Vegas to counter the perversion of our energy market by left wingers in the federal government, like Obama and Biden wouldn’t when the way to do that be for Texas to to require, hey, if you want to take the Obama money, that’s great, you want to develop wind and solar battery, whatever, fantastic. But you must commit to also building on your facilities, an equal amount of dispatchable power again, turn the switch on, and it’s there, an equal amount. So when the wind stops blowing, and the and the sun stops shining, you can fulfill your commitment to the Texas power grid, wouldn’t that be a way to disincentivize all these perverted federal dollars coming into the state of Texas?
That would be one way to do it, Chris, it’s an interesting idea. And the legislature over the last couple of sessions has been working diligently to try to figure out how to counterbalance this and to create a more fair and even playing environment for the development of a generation. So a couple of things that they did just last session that I think, has the potential to be very helpful. One of them is on the ballot. Today, it’s a proposition seven, where they created the Texas Energy Fund as a pool of money that’s using essentially the surplus in the Texas budget, to help incentivize through low interest loans to the development and in the support of dispatchable generation. And also to incentivize those who will build it more quickly, and bring them onto the grid in the next few years. So there’s some completion bonuses associated with that, too. I think that’s something that could be very helpful and help to kickstart the movement towards developing more of that dispatchable generation and plus a little bit of help to bring some balance into that equation. And to offset some of the the subsidies that you were talking about. There’s a couple of things going on that I think would be helpful, and we need to really focus on make sure those things move.
Yes and very, very good. Let’s let’s, let’s hope, again, the incentives and I think requiring anybody who partakes in the I call it the Obama money, but it’s federal government money. Also, you must maintain your commitment to the grid. If you’re going to sit there and say I get two megawatts from solar and wind. Well, that’s great. When the wind stops blowing in the wind isn’t shining, you should be able to maintain that two megawatt commitment. A Pablo Vegas is the president and CEO of ERCOT. Here in Texas, folks, sir, I know you’ve seen the movie grid down power up, which was, which was a documentary that detailed the problems that we’re having across the country and all three of the power grids. What has Texas done to guard against these natural or manmade attacks and I’m gonna give you a couple of examples, the possibility of an EMP attack the possibility of a solar flare in North Carolina, you had an unknown number of assailants just riddle, a power station, a substation with bullets, and it was enough enough to knock 40,000 people out of power. What is being done to harden the grid here in Texas?
Yeah, that’s that’s a concern for utility companies across the country. And I can tell you Texas is taking it as seriously as any place that I’ve ever seen. We have strong partnerships with the law enforcement agencies here in Texas Department of Public Safety and, and and others, you know, that cover cyber security, physical security, and working together with them. And with the util With the companies that own and operate all of this infrastructure, they have been putting in measures to prevent exactly the kind of events that you described. And similar with, you know, things like emp, and that can come from manmade, it can also come from things like a solar flare. And so we need to make sure that our, our transmission assets are able to withstand those kinds of impacts, that there’s enough reserves in our system that if something were to happen, we could quickly get them out of reserve, and then put the new equipment back on and get it up and running. Because there’s nothing more critical today, Chris, than maintaining electric supply. Because literally Health and Human Services rely on it, the quality of life we enjoy every day relies on it, after you know, air and water. I think electricity is the most required commodity needed to support life in the modern world today.
Yeah. And as you know, that federal report that outlined If we lose, if we get a grid collapse, it would take at best two years to get the entire grid backup and a loss of life. Again, a federal estimate of loss of life of nine zero 90% of our population, because of everything you just articulated. The last thing I wanted to get your your read on is the role nuclear could play in our energy solutions. Where are we as a country as a state it with nuclear power.
So Texas, as it often does, is leading the charge in working to create the environment where nuclear can become a core part of the future. Nuclear is a great, great power resource to develop in this country. And in Texas, because it is it is absolutely clean energy, if you know that its output is steam water. It runs like baseload energy. It has long long duration capabilities. It just runs and runs and runs. And it is extremely safe. The United States operates the safest and cleanest nuclear fleet in the world without question. And so we need to be looking to this kind of baseload power to continue to support this growth. And as you pointed out, wind and solar and all those, those are great resources, but you need them balance with something that is always going to be there to keep the lights on nuclear is the way to do that. The governor has started a task force led by Jimmy glossa Commissioner Jimmy Glatfelter, at the Public Utility Commission, this task force is focused on determining how to remove the barriers to allow Texas to lead the nuclear renaissance for the United States. I’m on that task force, strongly supportive of it. I think it’s a great opportunity for Texas to continue to lead in energy.
Right fuel cell technology is also great looking at that, and of course, the advancements in nuclear which, depending on the scientists, you talk to nuclear fusion is is is a dream. We’re not We’re not quite there yet, but it’s a dream. Pablo Vegas, everybody. He is president and CEO of ERCOT. Here in the great state of Texas, sir, I appreciate the time and information. Thanks, Chris. Have a great day. That does it for this Salcedo storm podcast, visit a couple of websites Texas scorecard.com check things out there for the battle for the soul of the Texas House to strip it away from Pro Democrat Republicans and restore it to the Republican majority with Republican sensibilities, conservative sensibilities that will move Texas forward into freedom and liberty into the future. Also check out Chris salcedo.com That’s where you find me the Chris Salcedo shows on AM 700k SCV the voice of Texas simulcast on rumble and on getter and on Newsmax too. You can also find the Chris Saucedo show on Newsmax one every afternoon Monday through Friday, four o’clock until five Eastern till we visit again my friends remember this a society’s worth isn’t measured by how much power is stolen by government. It is measured by how much power is reserved for you and me. We the People stay safe out there my friends.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai