Glenn Hegar
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
Glenn Hegar
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
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Glenn Hegar
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
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infrastructurePhoto Essay: Touring the State’s Energy Infrastructure

We often can take electricity for granted. But the people who work in energy know that its dependability is reliant on a complex mix of infrastructure, fuel sources and innovation. In fall 2023, Comptroller Glenn Hegar sought to make some of the complexity more visible through the energy edition of his Good for Texas Tour series. The tour coincided with the release of graphics-rich snapshots and reports detailing the state’s energy resources and grid infrastructure. Hegar visited five facilities to learn more about the challenges, opportunities and participants in Texas’ dynamic energy sector.

February 2024 | by Brynne Harder

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A complex system.

Hegar first visited ERCOT’s Taylor campus, where he met state Rep. Caroline Harris and ERCOT Chief Executive Officer Pablo Vegas. ERCOT — the Electric Reliability Council of Texas — oversees the system that delivers electricity to more than 26 million Texans across 214 counties, nearly the entire state. A mix of fuel sources, including wind, coal, nuclear and natural gas, along with transmission infrastructure and other variables, play important roles in the system.

The largest single source of power.

With at least 176 natural gas processing plants, no energy source provides more electricity to the state, according to ERCOT, accounting for nearly 42 percent of the total electric-generating capacity in 2023. Entergy Texas Inc. facilities, including the Montgomery County Power Station (MCPS), provide power to more than 500,000 Texans.

Pictured left to right: Stuart Barrett, Entergy Texas vice president of customer service; Scott Hutchinson, Entergy Texas vice president of public affairs; Eliecer Viamontes, Entergy Texas president and CEO; Glenn Hegar, Texas Comptroller; William Powell, Entergy Texas plant manager (MCPS); Earl Bell, Entergy Texas maintenance team lead.

Increasing demand.

Natural gas generation has been relatively stable in the past decade, while it’s forecasted that overall energy consumption in Texas will increase by about 29 percent over the next 10 years. Hegar spoke with Bell and Viamontes at MCPS, pictured, which opened in 2021, using state-of-the-art technology to provide 993 Megawatts (MW) of power. Entergy Texas is building the Orange County Advanced Power Station, a 1,215 MW natural-gas-fired power plant expected to go into service in 2026.

A leader.

Texas has led U.S. wind energy production for 17 years. With the growing presence of wind farms across rural areas, wind has grown to be the state’s second-largest electricity generating fuel source. The Roscoe Wind Complex, where Hegar saw the 400-foot turbines up close, stretches across 100,000 acres of land leased from dryland cotton farmers who continue to work the surrounding fields.

Part of the community.

The Roscoe Wind Complex’s 627 wind turbines cover four counties — Fisher, Mitchell, Nolan and Scurry. Together, they generate enough energy to power 234,000 homes. Hegar met with local and industry representatives to hear more about how the wind farm has boosted local schools and changed the communities it crosses.

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Pictured left to right: Andrew Flanagan, RWE chief executive officer; Guillermo Mancha Jr., Roscoe Independent School District superintendent; Cheyanne Smith, landowner; Jeffrey Clark, Advanced Power Alliance president; Terry Comer, Roscoe Wind Complex senior manager; and Hegar.

Dispatchable and reliable.

Matagorda County’s South Texas Project, where Hegar met with chief of staff and owner liaison Stephen Nance, is one of two nuclear power plants in the state providing around 40 million megawatt hours of energy each year. Both went online in the late 1980s yet are among the nation’s youngest. A third is currently under development in Seadrift — this advanced small modular reactor is expected to be complete by the end of the decade.

Powering Texas homes.

The STP Nuclear Operating Company (STPNOC) employs about 1,200, a majority of the approximately 1,700 Texas jobs in the nuclear electric power generation industry. In Bay City, Hegar, standing next to Bay City Chamber President Mitch Thames, listens to an introduction before speaking before the audience. STPNOC is a supporter of the chamber.

Keeping the system in running order.

Texas’ growing energy industry is dependent on a trained workforce to keep it running. Community colleges, technical schools, public universities, government agencies and private industry provide essential education programs for energy-related occupations. Hegar met with Dave Wabnegger, senior vice president of Quanta Advanced Training Center at Lazy Q Ranch, and Peter McKay, vice president of operations at Quanta Energized Services in La Grange, to hear about the facility’s unique, real-life training environments such as an energized power line and a simulated small town.

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A growing industry.

Hegar along with state Rep. Stan Kitzman, Wabnegger and McKay watch students from Lazy Q Ranch, Quanta’s internal training facility, as they practice the skills necessary for infrastructure construction. Texas energy workers represented 11.5 percent of all energy jobs in the nation in 2022, a 6.3 percent increase over the previous year.