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Vistra Corporation Plans to Invest in Solar Farms and Battery Storage

Vistra Corporation owns 36 natural-gas power plants; it is one of America’s largest fleets. The company doesn’t plan to buy or build anymore. It has decided to invest more than $1 billion in solar farms and battery storage units in Texas and California as it tries to transform its business to survive in an electricity industry being reshaped by new technology.

Curt Morgan, Chief Executive Officer of Vistra Corporation said that he is hellbent not to become the next Blockbuster Video. He is going to sit back and watch this legacy business dwindle and not participate. A decade ago, natural gas displaced coal as America’s top electric-power source, as fracking unlocked cheap quantities of the fuel. Currently, in quick succession, natural gas is threatened with the same kind of disruption, only this time from cost-effective batteries charged with wind and solar energy.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration Natural-gas-fired electricity represented 38% of U.S. generation in 2019. It provides round-the-clock electricity as well as bursts during peak demand. Wind and solar generators have gained substantial market share, and battery costs fall. Batteries that are paired with that green power are beginning to step into those roles by storing inexpensive green energy and discharging it after the sun falls or the wind dies. Battery storage remains less than 1% of America’s electricity market and so far draws power principally from solar generators, whose output is fairly predictable and easier to augment with storage.

President Biden is proposing to extend renewable-energy tax credits to stand-alone battery project installations that aren’t part of a generating facility and is a part of his $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan, which could add fuel to an already booming market for energy storage.

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