Is Gov. Abbott right TX power outages due to green energy?


Fact Box

  • After the power grid failed in Texas, around 4.4 million people were without power on Tuesday, February 16. As of Thursday, under 500,000 buildings were in the same conditions. 
  • The state of Texas has its own power grid alternative to the US’s eastern and western grids. In 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt initiated the Federal Power Act which regulated electricity sales, but Texas made a point that their utilities would stay separated by state, creating an “electrical island.”
  • Governor Greg Abbott (R-TX) blamed the power outages on green energy saying the frozen wind turbines and green power “thrust Texas into a situation where it was lacking power on a statewide basis.” 
  • On February 16, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) announced a joint inquiry into the “operation of the bulk-power system during the extreme winter weather conditions” throughout Texas and neighboring states.

Andrew (No)

It's perhaps not surprising that the Governor of a state with such a long history of fossil fuel production would attempt to blame recent outages on renewable energy sources, but in this case, the problem is homegrown. Governor Abbot should know better than to blame green energy sources for his state's troubles. Texas is the only state in the nation with its own electrical grid. The distrust in federal regulators that lead to its creation also allowed the Electric Reliability Council (ERCOT) of Texas to sidestep federal mandates that would have forced the grid to modernize, making it better prepared for such an event. The current situation is even more frustrating for many Texans because a similar event occurred in 2011, resulting in federal regulators telling ERCOT to modernize its grid, though ultimately they opted not to. The Texan grid's independence also means that it is not capable of connecting to neighboring systems to draw power during times of emergency. 

According to ERCOT, 45,000 megawatts were knocked offline as a result of the storm. Of those, only 16,000 megawatts should have come from renewable sources such as wind and solar. The vast majority of this power should have come from thermal sources such as gas, coal, and nuclear. Even though Texas has increased renewable energy production recently, it still only accounts for a quarter of the supply. These numbers clearly show that the problem in Texas has mostly come from traditional sources of energy. Surely Governor Abbot understands these simple statistics.


Ethan (Yes)

What happened in Texas wasn't a magical winter snowstorm—lives were lost, and people were left fearing for their lives when green energy failed to do its job. CBS News reports that Governor Abbott quoted the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the grid operator, who had said the state was prepared for the winter storm. Their annual winter assessment had also assured citizens that the state would have plenty of power. The green energy sources in Texas froze despite these assurances and contributed to the state's power outage. Green energy resources can't be trusted when they fail despite being checked by electrical grid operators.

According to CNBC, renewable power sources function intermittently and can't always be relied on at the moment they are needed. In comparison, natural gas and coal can be turned on at will and are proven to be reliable in cold weather. Despite this, renewable energy is being pushed onto Texas before it is ready, risking lives and causing issues such as this power outage.

As USA Today reports, Texas has spent billions of dollars on wind turbines, and they still failed when they were needed most. The high cost of green energy, especially in a state as large as Texas, takes money and resources away from more useful projects, such as weatherizing and increasing the current power network, and Texas would have had plenty of energy to outlast this storm rather than losing lives. Green energy clearly isn't at the point where we can rely on it, and it is causing deaths, damage, and more financial problems.

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