Green Energy Crisis in Texas? Nope.


The snow hadn't even stopped falling during the rare snowstorm that struck Texas but prominent republicans in Texas were already blaming wind energy and 'the Green New Deal' for the resulting energy failure that left around 4.5 million Texans without power.


One might have been lead to believe on the morning of February 16th that the energy production of Texas, notably one of the United States' most prominently and staunchly conservative states, had somehow, under the noses of all of Texas' most powerful conservative politicians, been hijacked by state democrats.

Texas, the country's largest energy-provider, had apparently been crippled by democrats and their affinity for windmills, if you were to believe Texas' Governor Greg Abbott, Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, or Representative Dan Crenshaw, another Texas legislator who was quick to weigh in. Chairman of the Republican Party of Texas, Allen West, doubled down on this line of attack after Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez raised funds and came to Texas to help in the relief effort (she ended up raising around $3.5 million for Texans suffering during the energy crisis).

The problem with this conservative attack line? Only 7% of Texas' winter energy supply was supposed to be provided by wind turbines (Douglas & Ramsey/Texas Tribune). Also problematic, regarding this conservative theory re: wind energy? An official with ERCOT (The Electric Reliability Council of Texas) themselves admitted on Tuesday that while 16 gigawatts of renewable energy generation (mostly wind generated) were offline, 30 gigawatts had been lost from thermal sources (natural gas, coal, and nuclear energy).


In short, wind energy was definitively not to blame for ERCOT's loss of control of the power grid, and yet the claims otherwise continued. Getting echoed by Tucker Carlson and the like, the aforementioned conservative Texan politicians kept up in propagating their erroneous claims whenever provided the opportunity. Meanwhile, ERCOT began sending customers, some who had just finally had their power restored after days without, bafflingly large bills.

So how could this Texas energy crisis have occurred? And then the price gouging and excessive charges levied at customers in the follow-up to this mess? The latter was answered by ERCOT rather quickly - the crippling energy fees they were charging Texans were to offset losses they'd incurred; they were essentially by design.

So with their exorbitant post-crisis fees "explained,"why then did this even happen in the first place? Basically a lack of "winterization" - pipes that carry gas and oil froze. This necessary winterization was simply not regulated by state authorities. The extent to which Texas's power grid has been deregulated and privatized (steadily over multiple generations of conservative stewardship) is best evidenced by how cut-off it has become from the other regional power grids that are utilized across the U.S. (and Canada).

ERCOT functions with a level of autonomy that no other regional energy 'council' in the United States could ever claim. As for this particular crisis, In their view, this "unprecedented" snowstorm/weather simply couldn't have been prepared for. Critics, however, point out that the weather, while rare, isn't at all unprecedented; snowstorms of this magnitude occur roughly every ten years or so in Texas, with the last one also causing (less widespread) blackouts in 2011. Critics of ERCOT's defense also note that recommendations made in the aftermath of 2011's blackouts were unenforced - winterization was not implemented; not for wind turbines, but more significantly, not for the gas and oil lines that the state is so reliant on currently (Price & Sechler/Austin American-Statesman).

What would winterization have accomplished, in this scenario? It's worth noting that even wind turbines function year-round in far colder & snowier climates than that of Texas with minimal complications. What's plainly obvious is that a lack of follow-up after the 2011 snowstorms, or more clearly stated, a lack of regulation, is what hurt Texans the most this time around. This lack of regulation was thanks in large part to the fact that the reins had largely been handed over to private enterprise via privatization. This privatization in turn provided the state with little recourse in terms of implementing any kind of coherent, state-wide energy policy, or more specifically in this case, the means of getting the necessary winterization done.

And the very conservative politicians who advocated for the policies that lead to this crisis; why were they going to pains to shift the blame to wind turbines? Perhaps it has something to do with how much money they earn for advocating for the disastrous policies that created these problems. Perhaps, also, it has to do with how much they'd stand to lose vis-à-vis the success of wind/renewable energy (Taft/Gizmodo).

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