My latest at InsideSources.com.
Pres. Joe Biden promised to make climate a central organizing principle of his administration. White House climate czar Gina McCarthy has promised to make Biden’s climate policies “irreversible.”
It would be a good time for Biden to reevaluate these promises in the wake of the manmade winter storm catastrophe that just struck Texas.
Although Texas doesn’t often suffer the sort of severe storm that hit on Valentine’s Day weekend, life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.
Possibly contributing to Texas’ lack of preparedness for severe winter weather was the winter forecast that the federal government had issued for December 2020 through February 2021. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecast in October that Texas had a 70 percent chance of having a warmer than normal winter.
The lessons are already beginning to mount: Weather is unpredictable and government forecasters don’t necessarily make it less so. And if government forecasters can be so tragically wrong in such a short-term forecast, how much confidence can we place in its climate predictions that extend decades out to the end of this century?
Although weather forecasters sounded alarms about the approaching severe cold a week in advance of Valentine’s Day weekend, the Texas grid operator ERCOT did nothing about it. Records indicate that as the storm approached, the ERCOT board–one-third of whose members don’t even live in Texas–spent less than 40 seconds discussing it. That all but guaranteed disaster.
ERCOT’s failure to recognize the gravity of the approaching extreme weather ensured Texas was going to rely on wind turbines to keep operating and supplying vital electricity to the Texas grid. It also meant back-up natural gas and coal power plants weren’t expecting and weren’t prepared to come online in case of wind turbine failure.
When the wind turbines froze, disaster quickly ensued. As many as 4.3 million people were soon left without power in deadly frigid temperatures. Rolling blackouts led to increased demand on the natural gas system, so much so that Texas shut off gas exports to Mexico, resulting in 4.7 million people without power there. ERCOT said the Texas grid was “seconds or minutes” away from a blackout that could have lasted months.
This tragedy was long in the making, foreseen, and avoidable.
The most reliable electricity generation sources in extreme weather are nuclear and coal plants. Texas doesn’t have much nuclear power and no new plants are being built or are even on the drawing board. Texas has been getting rid of coal plants since the mid-2000s, including the loss of 12 coal plants as a result of a Sierra Club-brokered Wall Street buyout of a major Texas utility company, a buyout that eventually went bankrupt.
The coal plants decommissioned and those not built were replaced by wind farms, which only work when the wind blows at the right speeds, which don’t tend to occur during extreme weather.
ERCOT has known for years that shedding coal plants in favor of windmills was leaving the grid vulnerable. But it thought that this problem might only occur during a summer heatwave when air conditioning use soars. Life happens.
Arrogant radical environmentalists cheered Texas’ reliance on wind turbines and downplayed concerns. In a 2019 report by E&E News, the director of the Texas chapter of the Sierra Club, conceded energy output from wind and solar depends on weather conditions, but then added, “the doomsday predictions haven’t come true.”
They have now, and “irreversibly” so for the dozens who died because of blackouts caused by foolish overreliance on wind.
Dependence on undependable on wind and solar are not unique to Texas. California has also been shedding fossil fuel power for so-called ‘renewables,” only to be forced into rolling blackouts when the renewables failed.
Like it or not, our society needs electricity–not almost all of the time, but all of the time. Electricity must be reliable and affordable. Grids must be designed and maintained by engineers keeping those goals in mind versus sociology majors and politicians operating under green dogma and political correctness.
None of this bodes well for Biden’s plan to make us 100 percent reliable on wind and solar for electricity by 2035. No doubt that is why Biden’s media allies are desperately trying to spin Texas’ frozen windmill disaster into one caused by fossil fuels and Texas’s independent grid set-up. Indeed, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez raved what Texas needed was even more Green New Deal.
She would be right only if her unending production of hot air could keep windmills turning.
March 4, 2021 at 09:14AM