What could Biden’s fight against climate change look like in Texas?

Joel Valdes, Staff Writer

The presidential debate from last Tuesday covered the topic of climate change and addressed what each candidate would do to combat this issue. Biden stated that he does not support the Green New Deal, which was introduced by democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Edward J Markey in 2019. Biden clarified that he is in favor of his own proposal, titled on his website as “The Biden Plan for a Clean Energy Revolution and Environmental Justice”.

This was Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s response on Twitter to Biden’s statement:

“Our differences are exactly why I joined Biden’s Climate Unity Task Force – so we could set aside our differences & figure out an aggressive climate plan to address the planetary crisis at our feet”. 

The plans are similar to each other, and Biden’s website refers to the Green New Deal as “a crucial framework for meeting the climate challenges we face”. They both share the desire of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. The Green New Deal is more specific in its goals, which includes the reduction of greenhouse gasses by increasing agricultural efficiency as much as possible. Biden’s proposal does not mention this. 

Neither of them have gone into detail yet into what actions will be taken to achieve the objectives, but those actions could be crucial for setting the stage for other countries to become more aggressive in green energy implementation. The things that need to be done to help the environment depend heavily on the geography of each area and the current systems in place.

Texas currently already has an electric system that is similar to what is being proposed in the Green New Deal. Most electric meters in Texas have been upgraded from Analog Meters to Smart Meters that are connected to larger grids. Since there are fewer distribution companies and larger grids, electricity delivery has become more efficient.

Most renewable energy in Texas comes from wind, and there is a push for solar energy to become a larger source of green energy in the state. Sunlight is more reliable during the parts of the day in which there is the least wind in Texas, which decreases the potential of instability from reliance on renewable sources. 

However, the current electric market in the state does not incentivize consumers to use green energy in their own homes. Most of Texas has a deregulated market so that individuals are able to choose an energy plan with an agreement on the price they will be charged per kWh. The installation of solar panels changes the Smart Meter to a Dual Meter, which allows the distribution company to track how much energy is being consumed in the home and how much is being generated. Having a Dual Meter changes the energy plans that are available to a customer. Installing solar panels makes an individual go from having dozens of providers to choose from (and hundreds of energy plans), to only three providers at higher prices. 

David Kinchen, strategic electric market analyst, states that this is because natural gas is already very cheap in Texas, which does not make solar energy a very high priority for cost benefit. Since wind is such a bountiful source of renewable energy, David says that the main hurdle now is to harness the energy that we get.

Currently, electricity is a resource that needs to be generated and used immediately. However, improved battery technology could make it so that we can store the energy when there is a surplus of it, and use it during the times of day when there is not enough of it. Broad Reach Power confirmed this September that they started construction on a pair of 100-megawatt batteries, which will aid in storage. Natural gas units are 650-megawatts, so this is only a drop in the bucket by comparison. However, as better batteries are developed the need for gas will decrease.

One of Biden’s goals in his plan is to innovate the technology that reduces emissions. If he is elected and his team achieves this goal, this has the potential of expediting the process of making Texas more eco-friendly.