Conservatives try to blame green energy for Texas's power crisis — here's the real problem

Conservatives try to blame green energy for Texas's power crisis — here's the real problem

Texas has recently been battered by severe winter weather and power blackouts, and some on the far right have been claiming that green energy is to blame. Fox News host Tucker Carlson, for instance, claimed, "The windmills failed like the silly fashion accessories they are."

But according to Bloomberg News, the problems that some wind turbines have recently suffered in Texas account for only a fraction of the state's energy problems.

Dan Woodfin, a senior director for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, told Bloomberg News that the closing of wind turbines in Texas is the least important factor in the Texas blackouts. ERCoT operates the state's power grid.

Bloomberg reporters Will Wade, Naureen S. Malik and Brian Eckhouse report that according to Woodfin, the main factors in Texas' energy woes are frozen instruments at natural gas, coal and nuclear facilities. Woodfin said that shutdowns of wind turbines accounted for less than 13% of the total outages in Texas.

Woodfin told Bloomberg News, "We've had some issues with pretty much every kind of generating capacity in the course of this multi-day event."

Fossil fuels, in other words, are hardly immune to the energy problems Texas has suffered during the severe weather.

Wade, Malik, and Eckhouse explain, "Wind only comprises 25% of the state's energy mix this time of year. While wind can sometimes produce as much as 60% of total electricity in Texas, the resource tends to ebb in the winter. So, the grid operator typically assumes that the turbines will generate only about 19% to 43% of their maximum output. Even so, wind generation has actually exceeded the grid operator's daily forecast through the weekend."

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, a Democrat, warned:

This week in the Houston Chronicle, reporters Marcy de Luna and Amanda Drane also offered some insights on Texas' energy problems. Ed Hirs of the Department of Economics at the University of Houston told the Chronicle that Texas' power grid hasn't been maintained the way it needs to be.

"The ERCoT grid has collapsed in exactly the same manner as the old Soviet Union," Hirs told the Chronicle. "It limped along on underinvestment and neglect until it finally broke under predictable circumstances."

According to Hirs: "For more than a decade, generators have not been able to charge what it costs them to produce electricity. If you don't make a return on your money, how can you keep it up? It's like not taking care of your car — if you don't change the oil and tires, you can't expect your car to be ready to evacuate, let alone get you to work."

From Your Site Articles
Related Articles Around the Web

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card


Thanks for your support!

Did you enjoy AlterNet this year? Join us! We're offering AlterNet ad-free for 15% off - just $2 per week. From now until March 15th.