Casar leads 22 House Democrats in call for federal electric grid corridors in Texas

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Rep. Greg Casar (D-Texas) on Monday led 22 members of Congress in requesting that the Department of Energy add Texas to the areas serviced by proposed federal corridors for electrical transmission.

In May, the department announced 10 proposed National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors (NIETCs) that, if implemented, could make federal funds available to expand grid capability in those areas. However, Texas, which relies on the self-contained Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), was not among the proposed sites.

“The United States needs a 21st-century electric grid [and] you can’t have a 21st-centutry electric grid with a giant hole in the middle of it in the shape of Texas,” Casar told The Hill in an interview. “The earlier list of corridors selected continues to exclude Texas, and that needs to change. That’s why we’re asking the Department of Energy in their next list to include adding transmission in and around the state of Texas.”

In addition to Casar, the letter is signed by Texas Democrats Lloyd Doggett, Jasmine Crockett, Joaquin Castro, Veronica Escobar, Al Green and Sheila Jackson Lee, as well as Reps. Don Beyer (D-Va.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), Delia Ramirez (D-Ill.), Summer Lee (D-Pa.), Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Robert Garcia (D-Calif.), Valerie Foushee (D-N.C.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Nanette Diaz Barragan (D-Calif.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.) and Maxwell Frost (D-Fla.), along with Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.).

Casar is a longtime advocate of integrating ERCOT into the national grid, and co-sponsored a bill to that effect with Ocasio-Cortez.

In the interview, he pointed to recent research from MIT suggesting that such a law could have prevented 80 percent of the blackouts caused in 2021, when extreme winter weather hit Texas.

He cited both that weather and the recent extreme heat that has enveloped much of the U.S. as arguments in favor of the grid expansion.

“Texas is the energy capital of the country — when there are extreme temperatures around Texas, Texas should be able to export its energy to reduce blackouts, and when there’s extreme heat in Texas we should be able to import power so we don’t have blackouts,” he said. “By helping each other out, we’re all better off instead of having Texas as this island.”

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