ERCOT is Enron

– Alex Jones, conspiracy propagator, Infowars.com

“You ask, ‘How do we know climate change is responsible?’ Shut up, denier. Likewise, because the weather inflicted painful blackouts on millions of voters, politicians hinted that market manipulation by energy traders may play a role. These manipulators will never be found. But shut up about that too”.

— Holman Jenkins, Texas Cold’em; Power Outages are Political, WSJ, Feb. 16, 2021.

Government does not solve problems; it subsidizes them

– Ronald Reagan

The predictable electricity grid freeze in Texas (there is a statewide 35-year cyclical arctic snow storm) has resulted in ideological finger pointing. Those on the political Left point to a lack of (all-green) backup power and engage in wishful thinking that phantom Capitalist energy speculators will be found as the cause of the grid failure.  

At the other extreme, ERCOT is the new EnronOthers more clearly identify the loss of wind power at crucial times as a key contributor to deficit power and imbalanced voltage to trigger the crisis (voltage is like water pressure).  

The double-down Leftist Capacity Energy Policy advocating dispatchable backup green power (awaiting the next 35-to-50 year event, amounts to another government jobs program, political pork and wealth transfer extracted from the independent working class. 

Conversely, the Right’s deregulated Real Time Energy Policy, embraced solely by ERCOT and the Southwest Power Pool, avoids producing redundant, over-priced power and job featherbedding at the expense of the private working class. 

Nonetheless it would not likely have prevented the freeze out because the cold snap was system wide.  Ultimately, there was no way to re-balance voltage from one sector of the grid to another especially after ERCOT shut down power to the Permian Gas Basin. But ERCOT’s exacerbation of the emerging crisis plausibly could have been avoided if it had not shut down power to the Permian Basin that was needed to pump gas to homes with no heat and pump potable water so that pipelines would not freeze up.

But, if there is no one culpable to blame, and energy policies on both sides of the political spectrum are no solution, this begs the question: is there any policy that would work in a system-wide freeze up of the grid? Tentative answer: there is no credible, non-politicized, economical public policy solution conceived by experts so far.  Forming an ERCOT speculative energy market, such as California’s, would not have saved Texas for the same reason of system-wide frozen gas distribution lines. Who would set up a business model to sell power once every 35 or more years?

Bigger Picture

American energy policy is divided into ideological camps along class lines in a class war (see Michael Lind, The Coming Class War: Saving Democracy from the Managerial Elite, 2020).  The adherents of each tell us with great assurance where we’re at and what we should do about it.  I favor the Business Class and ERCOT’s real-time energy only market for non-ideological reasons, not a Socialist Capacity Electricity Market.  But, neither model has the prospect of offering a solution to such an infrequent and widespread water and power utility calamity. The Great Texas Power Freeze is what is called a Wicked Problem because it can’t be fixed without creating worse problems.

Underlying the major ideological models for energy policy are two powerful myths – 1) the apocalyptic myth of global warming embraced by Socialists and 2) the myth of endless growth through a global engineered economy embraced by crony Capitalists and financed with fiat money subsidies

 Globalism is a giant con game that transfers wealth from the Independent Working Class to the Knowledge-Lawyer-Union-Billionaire Class (KLUB class) in a reverse Marxism under the banner of Marxist anti-exploitation of the workers.  Both myths must be debunked when it comes to attempting to solve unsolvable calamities such as the Great Texas Power Freeze.

We must seek energy policy solutions that accept neither overbuilt energy grids as giant jobs programs that take wealth from the independent working classes; nor a real-time energy demand grid that also leaves the working class out in the cold during a 35-year power short.  

Energy policy is typically made by cliques of politicians and intellectuals with claims to superior insights or virtue. These claims are often spurious.

However, Texas’s freer market grid has produced more affordable energy with way fewer blackouts and catastrophic fires from dropped power lines than, say, California, which has a Capacity Market policy.

It is impossible to “raise the consciousness” of anyone to become “woke” about some self-serving religious-like prophecy of a global warming crisis. Global warming wouldn’t be the first time an energy crisis was concocted, as described by Anthony Sutton of the 1973 Arab Oil Embargo.  

Then there is the con game of the benefits of economic globalization because we are all stumbling around at the same dim level of consciousness subject to the self-serving propaganda lens run by the Knowledge Class.  As socialist George Bernard Shaw put it: “every profession is a conspiracy against the laity”, referring specifically to doctors.

Little Picture

Individuals and families know their own socio-economic world better than any outsider or policy expert.  Paraphrasing Peter Berger, those who are the objects of energy policies should have the opportunity of not only ratifying specific policies but the definitions of the situation on which these policies are based.  Given a choice, do Texans want affordable electricity or a bloated energy grid that mainly benefits free riders and featherbedders for infrequent extreme weather events as defined by the Knowledge Class to their main benefit? 

Additionally, there must be an admission that energy policy decisions must be made on the basis of inadequate knowledge rather than reliance on “certainty wallahs” who tell us with great assurance of the future but to the benefit of their class and detriment to the working class.

And a “calculus of pain” needs to enter the policy equation as to the impositions and ruinations on the Independent Worker Class, such as have been forced on small businesses by the medical knowledge class by the avoidable Coronavirus crisis shutdown of small businesses (where the number of

influenza cases has coincidentally dropped to near zero). 

A true free market energy (and medical epidemic policy) has way less of a tendency to wipe out small businesses, churches and neighborhoods that form the mediating institutions that serve as buffers between the individual and the predations of government in coalition with the Knowledge Class.  As Clarice Feldman states in her article “Fantastical Energy”, the unrealistic fantasies of class-based green energy policies, omit that local, non-governmental institutions can respond to natural disasters better than government or public utilities because they don’t worsen it.  Or as she puts it: “Maybe it’s time to buy home generators”.  

And maybe churches and other voluntary institutions could be designated shelters in such events, as civil defense policy already does.  But for mediating institutions to work they must “remain above the fray of politics” and not be co-opted for political ends.

Mediating structures for implementation of energy disaster response are not synonymous with local California’s collectivist energy buying cooperatives, called “Community Choice Energy” (CEC).  CEC’s are another green jobs program that only worsen electricity blackouts by a portfolio front loaded with unreliable green power.  Energy buying cooperatives advocate a distributed (decentralized) green power grid of rooftop solar panels and useless plug-in hybrid cars but not dispersed human capacity to survive system-wide grid failure.

It is no surprise that the Leftist cancel culture targets censoring the private working class from social media. For local mediating structures to work in a disaster they must have free access to the internet and radio, not a cancel culture of “cognitive totalitarianism” that impedes neighborhoods or churches to mobilize to provide warm buildings and clean water in a disaster. As media images have shown, it was the

HEB supermarket chain that most people could rely on.  

Paraphrasing Ronald Reagan: “Government cannot solve problems, it can only subsidize them by robbing Peter to pay Paul with green energy tax credits and artificial green jobs programs.

———————–

Wayne Lusvardi appraises private water companies regulated by the Public Utilities Commission in California. He served on the California energy crisis task force in 2001 for the state’s largest wholesale water agency.  Contact: waynelus@yahoo.com.

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June 20, 2021