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A Failed Perry Energy Initiative

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Governor Rick Perry speaks to Florida conservatives in September

Trying to read up on Texas Governor Rick Perry, before tomorrow’s big Pittsburgh energy speech?

Bloomberg Businessweek is a good place to start. The magazine has published a lengthy profile on the Republican’s record in Austin, including this bit about a failed energy initiative.

Perry’s electricity initiative met the same fate for similar reasons. In 2006 the state’s largest electric utility, TXU Energy, announced plans to build 11 coal-fired power plants. This would have helped meet an obvious need. Texas is unique in having an electricity grid separate from the rest of the country’s, built that way in the 1930s to avoid federal oversight. But this makes it difficult to import power when there are shortages. Rolling blackouts are a continual problem.

The source of the new power—coal—guaranteed an outcry. Rather than go out and try to build support, Perry bypassed the public and the legislature and issued an executive order accelerating the permits, thereby intensifying the opposition. He argued, correctly, that the state needed to generate more power. But he either didn’t anticipate or didn’t care who would object—not only environmentalists but also whole swaths of suburban Republicans. Perry’s order was challenged in court and found unconstitutional. A private equity group later bought TXU and scrapped most of the plans.

Other articles worth reading: a hard look at Perry’s job-creation record from the National Journal’s Alex Roarty, and the Texas Tribune’s PerryPedia.

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