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Texas A&M System steps up to stabilize Texas energy grid

A map of The Texas A&M University System and the Texas power grid
The Texas A&M University System
The Texas A&M University System
A map of The Texas A&M University System and the Texas power grid

The Texas A&M System aims to provide reliable sources of power during periods of high demand.

BRYAN, COLLEGE STATION, Texas — The Texas A&M University System recently took its first steps toward creating a peaker power network on land it owns across the state to help stabilize the Texas power grid during peak demand.

One possible location is the campus of Texas A&M University-Commerce.

Peaker power plants, also known simply as “peakers,” are power plants typically used to provide electricity during periods of peak demand. They are an essential component of modern electricity grids, providing a reliable source of power during periods of high demand.

On Tuesday, May 21, The A&M System asked private developers to submit their proposals for building peakers on A&M System-owned property with financing through the newly-created $5 billion Texas Energy Fund.

“This will help ensure our campuses and their local communities never go dark again, while adding power to help ensure all of Texas is protected,” said John Sharp, Chancellor of The Texas A&M University System.

Sharp said hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of research were lost during Winter Storm Uri in 2021, when blackouts shut down power to labs and refrigerators across Texas.

Peaker power plants are designed to prevent blackouts by operating only during times of high electricity demand, such as hot summer days when air conditioning use spikes, or during major events that require significant energy consumption. They are not meant to run continuously but to be activated quickly when needed to stabilize the grid. They only run a few days each year.

Peaker plants also play a crucial role in integrating renewable energy sources into the grid. Since renewable sources like wind and solar are intermittent, peaker plants can provide backup power when these sources are not generating electricity.

The Texas Energy Fund was created after the blackouts of Winter Storm Uri made it clear to all that the Texas power grid didn't have adequate generation capacity. It was created by Senate Bill 2627 in 2023 by legislation sponsored by Senators Charles Schwertner, Carol Alvarado, Paul Bettencourt and Representative Todd Hunter. Voters approved the constitutional amendment creating the Texas energy fund in November.

About The Texas A&M University System

The Texas A&M University System is one of the largest systems of higher education in the nation, with a budget of $7.3 billion. Through a statewide network of 11 universities, a comprehensive health science center, eight state agencies, and the Texas A&M-RELLIS campus, the Texas A&M System educates more than 157,000 students and makes more than 21 million additional educational contacts through service and outreach programs each year. System-wide, research and development expenditures exceed $1 billion and help drive the state's economy.