Texas to double $5 billion state fund aimed at expanding the power grid

Vistra Corp.’s Midlothian Power Plant. State leaders announced Monday that Texas will double a fund aimed at spurring the construction of more gas-fired power plants as power demand is projected to increase sharply. Credit: Shelby Tauber for The Texas Tribune

The state of Texas plans to double a state fund aimed at expanding the power grid as demand for electricity is expected to nearly double over the next six years.

The state will look to boost the Texas Energy Fund from $5 billion to $10 billion, Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick announced on Monday. The fund was approved by voters in November 2023 to offer low-interest loans to incentivize development of new gas-fueled power plants.

The announcement comes soon after a new prediction by the state’s main grid operator that said electricity needs will surge in the coming years. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas estimated that the state’s main power grid would have to provide nearly double the amount of power it currently supplies by 2030.

The numbers in the new forecast, Abbott and Patrick said in a press release, “call for an immediate review of all policies concerning the grid.”

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The state’s grid came under intense public and legislative scrutiny after a winter storm in 2021 knocked out its operations, causing dayslong power outages across the state in freezing temperatures that left millions of Texans without lights or heat. Hundreds died.

The Texas Energy Fund set aside $5 billion to fund 3% interest loans to help construct new gas-fueled power plants that are not dependent on the weather and that could power 20,000 homes or more.

The fund was also designed to pay out bonuses to companies that connect new gas-fueled plants to the main grid by June 2029, and to offer grants for modernizing, weatherizing and managing vegetation growth around electricity infrastructure in Texas outside the main electricity market, which meets around 90% of the state’s power needs.

The state received notices of intent to apply for $39 billion in loans — almost eight times more than what was initially set aside, Abbott and Patrick said. They added that the average plant will take three to four years to complete, and new transmission lines will take three to six years to complete.

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Companies have until July 27 to apply for a loan.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune.