Renewable energy

Renewable Energy Is Not the Chief Cause of Texas' Power Outages

The vast majority of the shortfall is from failures at fossil fuel-powered plants.

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President Joe Biden has declared a state of emergency in response to the rolling power outages now affecting millions of Texans during a deep arctic cold snap. What is causing the energy shortfall? In "A Deep Green Freeze," The Wall Street Journal's editorial board asserts that coal and nuclear power are "the most reliable sources of power." The editorial also states that "competition from heavily subsidized wind power and inexpensive natural gas, combined with stricter emissions regulation, has caused coal's share of Texas's electricity to plunge by more than half in a decade to 18%." The op-ed further notes that "wind's share has tripled to about 25% since 2010 and accounted for 42% of power last week before the freeze set in." The op-ed then balefully concludes: "The Biden Administration's plan to banish fossil fuels is a greater existential threat to Americans than climate change."

However, the editorial fails to mention one particularly salient fact. Most of the shortfall in electric power generation during the current cold snap is the result of natural gas and coal powered plants going offline.

"The wind is not solely to blame," explained Wade Schauer, a research director at energy research consultancy Wood Mackenzie to Bloomberg News. Of the 34 gigawatts generation capacity forced offline, Schauer estimates that about 27 gigawatts of coal, nuclear, and gas capacity is unavailable in part because the cold has driven up demand for natural gas for heating. "That's the bigger problem," he told Bloomberg News. The pipeline system is not able to deliver enough natural gas to supply both higher demand for home heating and power generation.

In fact, similar state-wide power outages previously occurred in February 2011 when wind and solar power constituted less than 4 percent of Texas' generation capacity. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's report on the 2011 weather event noted that 193 generating units failed, resulting in rolling power outages that affected 3.2 million customers. Most of the outages in 2011 occurred as a result of frozen sensors and valves and natural gas shortages. The same problems with insufficiently winterized equipment appear to be happening now.

With respect to the current episode, about half of Texas' wind turbines did freeze up. However, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, a power grid operator, generally calculates that the turbines will generate only about 19 to 43 percent of their maximum output during the winter months. It is worth noting that winds from the storm were boosting power production from the unfrozen coastal wind turbines and thus offsetting some of the other power generation losses.

Maintaining electric power gird reliability while integrating ever more renewable power supplies is not a simple problem, but that does not seem to be the main issue with the current outages in Texas.

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  1. Global warming is causing the arctic ice snap. That should be the headline.

    1. + As blatantly obvious in this lefty-propaganda article but manipulated narrative. Windmill’s don’t create enough energy to matter even when hundreds of them go offline.

      Only government can spend TRILLIONS on something that’s not big enough to ‘matter’.

      The reason I read on other sources was that the Windmill ‘freeze ups’ is what caused the electrical distribution network to fail.

      1. “Windmill’s don’t create enough energy”

        Windmill’s (sic) don’t create any energy and never have. Consult the first law of thermodynamics, if you need re-assurance.

        1. First time in a while you spoke the truth.

        2. Then neither do nuclear reactors or fossil fuels. If we’re going to be pedantic about it go all the way – all the energy in the universe was created in the Big Bang and everything else is just moving it from one form to another.

          1. I think all the energy existed before the Big Bang. It was all contained in an infinitely small point. My head hurts.

            1. And before that it came from another universe. Or so I’ve heard. I don’t think the science is settled on that yet like it is on Global Warming.

              1. Or it was created from the collapse of this universe.

      2. Very leftist article and green energy strips money away from other energy sources like coal and natural gas power plants during the good time with the unintended consequences being no money to upgrade generating plants in case of a freeze which happens every ten years, severe freeze every 40 or so.

        Coal does not freeze and nuclear does not freeze but cascading failures from cascading limited supply will knock them out.

        Central planning at its’ best.

        1. “Coal does not freeze”

          I’ve read that piles of coal subjected to freezing rain can freeze into a lump that is difficult to cope with. It seems to be a rare problem, though.

        2. Rachel Maddow last night said that the Texas freeze is because TX does not insulate and weatherize its infrastructure. She said everyone else does because federal regulations make them, but Texas doesn’t allow power to cross state lines so it is not subject to federal regulation of energy. This was interesting to me because as we know here DC and northern Virginia power lines are routinely knocked out, almost annually, by storms. They aren’t weatherized in that in the priciest neighborhoods power lines are above ground and falling tree branches knock them down. The cost of burying the main power lines in Washington, D.C. would have been around $800 million (almost exactly what D.C. instead spent building its new convention center and not even including what it cost to tear down the old convention center, which is now a parking lot). This leads me to wonder if the expense of creating the windmills and other “alternative” energy infrastructure that now (when not frozen) supply 20% of Texas energy supplies would have been enough to instead insulate and winterize Texas power lines etc. As some may remember, Rachel Maddow went to Afghanistan a few years ago to promote the American military’s building infrastructure there. https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2010/07/madd-j15.html

    2. I have 16 inches of fresh global warming in my yard, not to mention the 8 or so inches from a couple of weeks ago.

      1. I got 8″ inches of global warming in my pants

        1. You should probably go take a shower and wash that off. And change your pants.

        2. Isn’t it an amazing coincidence that every guy on the web has a massive penis?

          1. How else would we going to keep our supermodel wives at home?

            1. Dammit….changing your wording half-way through typing is always a bad idea.

      2. Interesting. Maybe it would be more relevant if it was called MatthewSlyfield’s yard warming. Since it is actually “Global” warming instead, why don’t we take measurements from the entire globe to be sure?

    3. Ask and ye shall receive:

      https://www.treehugger.com/polar-vortex-linked-to-climate-change-5112639

      Scientists explain how all this cold weather is related to the warming Arctic and climate crisis.

      1. I can’t take seriously anyone who uses braindead labels like “climate deniers”. I don’t I’ve ever heard anyone deny the existence of climate…and I’ve heard a lot of bat shit crazy stuff from conspiracy theorists, flat-Earthers, et al.

        1. It’s what you get from propaganda sites…”climate denier” is a political term, not a scientific one…just the standard approach to silence dissent by marginalizing

      2. Polar vortex weather patterns were documented long before 1979 (the putative start of CO2-driven “global warming”). Polar vortices are neither more severe nor more common since CO2 levels increased.

        In short, while you are right that some folks have alleged a connection between climate change and polar vortices, their arguments are junk that do not pass even a rudimentary statistical scrutiny.

    4. Lefty’s wouldn’t appreciate that.

    5. By some strange coincidence, the projected grand solar minimum started this last year.

      Huge drops in the global temperature anomaly already in December and January, and now in February the northern hemisphere is covered in snow. We’ll probably see the lowest temperature anomaly in 5 years.

      Time for Bailey to update his grand solar minimum article.

      https://reason.com/2015/07/13/new-little-ice-age-may-counteract-global/

      1. Just as the grand solar minimum is expected to drive down temperatures, the 20th century was an extended solar maximum that should be been expected to drive up temperatures.
        https://www.spaceweatherlive.com/en/solar-activity/solar-cycle/historical-solar-cycles.html

        What goes up, must come down.
        Spinning wheel, got to go round.

        1. No! It’s all about carbon emissions! And only full centrally planned communism will save the planet!

  2. Neat trick, switching ‘green energy plans’ with ‘renewable energy’.

    Recap:
    1) Close coal plants, which can warehouse large amounts of fuel.
    2) Rely more on Gas (require JIT delivery over pipelines, shared with higher priority residential)
    3) Rely more on Wind and Solar, which store next to no reserve energy

    Claim it’s Coal and/or Fossil Fuels fault!

    Bah.

    1. When they say “science”, they don’t mean actual science with facts and logic.

      1. They mean science from the right scientists. The wrong scientists are Dangerous Conspiracy Theorists.

        1. Greedy Big Oil out to destroy the world by eliminating the “natural green horses” pulling covered wagons.

        2. Going against the consensus, like Galileo and Copernicus.

    2. Coal is gone and will not be back. No power company going to invest in a dirty expensive plant for the sake of a short term power. The key here is the natural gas plants and the failure to anticipate the cold snaps moving that far south. You could say the same thing about the failure to have snow plows and road salt in the south. Is it worth the effort and cost for the few time it is needed? Well if you are sitting without power right now or your car was destroyed in a weather related accident, you probably say yes.

      1. Not true. China is investing heavily in coal power. And even with this investment they will still meet their Paris agreement to reach peak carbon and then decline

        1. They will just lie and claim they met their goal.

        2. Here in the US coal can’t compete with natural gas so nobody is going to build a new coal plant (for making electricity)…but in other parts of the world, coal still makes economic sense.
          China and others are still expanding their coal fired electric plants but they are also expanding nuclear, natural gas, hydro and renewables. They are still rapidly increasing energy use and the ability of fossil fuels and nukes to provide on demand, 247 power makes them a vital part of any sensible strategy. If you check out the greenies propaganda sites they will show stats about how much China is investing in clean energy but omit the fact that they still burn coal; are still building new coal plants; and don’t have any plans to phase out coal.

          Interesting stat: Worldwide the percentage of electricity generated from coal is about the same now as it was 20 years ago. It’s declined significantly in the US and Europe but those reductions have been offset by new coal generation elsewhere.

          1. Pollution standards add a LOT to the cost of building a coal power plant. Even with the US standards, the best coal plant is probably a worse polluter than every (or almost every) natural gas plant. Coal could be viewed as a devil’s soup of compounds that you would never want your family to ingest. I like wind power, solar, nat gas, all forms of energy, but coal is dead last in my ranking.

            In the last century USA, we barely cared. Coal plants built then, would never pass muster today for pollution emitted. In China today, do you think they care, or do they build the cheap way and kill a few (actuarially measurable) people from pollution?

        3. China in 2019 generated more power via coal, than did all of the United States. They will continue to do so.

          Kristian H. lays the mechanism of blame pretty well upthread. My respect for Ron Bailey continues to drop.

      2. In Phil Murphy’s first experience with a proper snowstorm, the state didn’t bother salting the roads in advance, or having plows ready to keep the roads clear. This was partially understandable; it’s rare we get a material amount of snow before January, and the forecasts averaged about 2 inches but with the potential for much more.

        But the high-side forecasts ended up bearing out, and the result was a disaster. Ever since, the state has been piling salt on the highways and paying drivers not to plow whenever there’s a slight chance of snow/ice.

        I suspect an analogous outcome in TX as a result of this event.

      3. Coal is neither expensive nor especially dirty. The reason that power companies are declining to invest in coal is 1) the fracking revolution dropped the cost of its competition (natural gas) by a lot, in combination with 2) the regulatory demonization of coal.

        While you are correct that a large part of this crisis was the failure to predict the natural consequences of a cold snap, the governor’s claim that this was an especially unusual event is self-serving and untrue. The problem is that the state regulatory agency that’s supposed to plan for exactly these kinds of issues has no incentive to do so. While there were a few cold-related mechanical failures, the primary source of the problem was an unconscionably slow reaction by the grid regulators who were responsible for contracting for more capacity.

        1. Coal may not be expensive but coal fired plants are expensive. Coal presents a number of problems that other fuels don’t have to address. Coal requires more environment controls to address pollutants that are by-products. Coal also leaves residual fly ash that must be addressed. As that fly ash can contain toxic trace elements it can be complicated to dispose of properly. So yes coal is expensive compared to natural gas and renewables.

          1. A coal facility is more expensive per megawatt generated than a natural gas facility but the lifecycle costs of coal are far below the lifecycle costs of wind, solar and most biofuel. The only way that renewables come out “cheaper” is when you count all the subsidies and tax breaks AND completely ignore the cost of the reserve generation capacity necessary for intermittent sources.

            1. only way that renewables come out “cheaper” is when you count all the subsidies and tax breaks

              Well I’m certain that we have no idea how to even begin to calculate all the subsidies, tax breaks, distortions, etc that apply to all resources (land) and in particular energy. For eample how much does it cost (and who pays) to ensure that oil is priced on the international market in dollars, that its ocean shipment to/from everywhere is free of piracy-type charges, so that central banks everywhere can establish that as their reserve currency regardless of their trade balance? Hell idk whether there even is a net cost but there sure is a massive contraint on policy options and governance

            2. Yeah. Taking discussion with progtards in a green energy website. Progressives are too stupid to be allowed to run anything.

          2. Residual fly ash = gypsum = drywall, of which there is a huge shortage

        2. This is the place where the Green Power complaint is legitimate, and we’ve seen it in California too. It’s not green energy that’s the problem, per se, but that the regulators turn a blind eye to poor maintenance of existing infrastructure if you’re meeting their targets bringing green power sources online. And, as we’ve seen with the frozen windmills, they turn a blind eye to making sure the green energy infrastructure is actually hardened too.

          1. We spend all the money on bullshit green energy initiatives. Instead of inv eating into real energy production.

        3. Coal is very dirty…and I’m not talking about CO2. Bag houses and scrubbers are great but expensive and still allow gasses and particulates to pass. Coal fired electric plants put out heavy metals and other toxins. And the fly ash should be treated as hazardous waste.
          I started working in utilities back in the seventies and worked on some “clean coal” projects but nothing is really cost effective. As you mentioned, fracking has made NG cheap and plentiful. It’s so much cheaper to build and operate a gas plant than a coal plant. Natural gas has been the fastest growing source for electrical generation over the last couple of decades. And coal has seen the largest decline. In 1990 coal generated 1594 billion kilowatt hours of electricity. By 2018 that had dropped to 1146 billion kilowatt hours – a drop of 448 billion kilowatt hours (28%). In 1990 natural gas was used to generate 373 billion kilowatt hours and renewables 357 billion kilowatt hours. By 2018 natural gas electrical generation had increased to 1468 billion kilowatt hours (+1095 billion kilowatt hours; an increase of 294%) and electrical generation from renewables had increased to 713 billion kilowatt hours (+ 356 billion kilowatt hours; an increase of 99.7%).

          1. Coal is the cheapest if you don’t spend the money to install modern anti-pollution equipment… and if you do it is still dirtier than the energy alternatives. Three cheers for natural gas, it is inexpensive, scalable, and clean enough.

            Texas’ problems are due to those numbskulls who did not design their plants to operate below a 99th percentile freeze. Texas is ATTEMPTING to address the matter by using an auction where sky high wholesale prices are paid during a shortage: 90 cents/kwh when retail pricing is a flat 10 cents/kwh or so. It didnt work so well this time, but I won’t say I could have designed a market any better.

            Designed market. Does that phrase stick in your craw, Libertarians? It does to me, but utilities are all about hyper regulation. I give Texas credit for trying to move in the direction of free markets, but no one could say they are there yet.

        4. We have a winner!!!

        5. Again, Rossami spittin’ truth here.

          Further, the gas producers had a warning their distribution systems weren’t adequately winterized in 2011. Did they fix the problem? Doesn’t appear so.

      4. The key here is the natural gas plants and the failure to anticipate the cold snaps moving that far south. You could say the same thing about the failure to have snow plows and road salt in the south.

        Hey dumbass, the reason that “investment” isn’t made is because these are rare events, and “investing” in them, only for an army of plows to sit idle during most of an entire decade, isn’t worth the cost.

        The northeast and upper midwest is literally the only region of the country that uses road salt. The Rocky Mountains use sand and magnesium chloride–that’s why, even though these regions get heavy snow, the cars don’t have rusted-out undercarriages after about 5 winters. The southwest and deep south so rarely get these kinds of severe cold snaps (northwest Louisiana, for example typically gets NONE at all), what’s the fucking point in warehousing tons of road salt and buying an army of snow plows?

        1. That was kind of my point. In the scheme of things it doesn’t make sense to address rare short term events. But that doesn’t mean it will not happen and so you have to be ready to accept those events. We have similar problems planning for snow fall and ice. Cities budget for the expected number of events. On years when we have more events there is a shortfall. Question is it worth planning for more events that only occur occasionally.

          1. Except you equated both to a “failure to anticipate” something that rarely happens.

        2. I live in Northern Illinois. Bring on the salt.

        3. Magchlor is magic. It does film up windows pretty bad, so you need lots of good window cleaner.

          1. Window cleaner kills your brain last.

        4. Even Texas has a significant stockpile of sand that we use on all the bridges.

      5. “The key here is the natural gas plants and the failure to anticipate the cold snaps moving that far south.”

        Funny; I thought the whole point in killing ‘dirty’ plants was to keep from burning alive by “global warming”, or I mean “changing weather”, or I mean (coming to a lefty-nutjob near you) “global cooling” again?!

        Where does the U.S. Constitution give the ‘Federal’ Authority to ‘own’ the peoples energy again?

      6. The key here is the natural gas plants and the failure to anticipate the cold snaps moving that far south.

        If only there were an energy source that could be moved to in demand locations as needed. You know, like wind power only more useful. Maybe even several such energy sources, all more useful than wind.

    3. 2) Natural Gas can be stored. Is there some reason natural gas power plants couldn’t have local storage rather than relying on a direct tap from pipelines?

      1. What’s the cost of a thousand cubic feet of storage? Multiplied by a lot.

      2. Cost of storage is part of it but more is the leakage. Pile up coal and it just sits there. It’s pretty much just as usable a week or a decade later. Put natural gas in a tank and no matter how good your seals and valves, it just wants out. We liquefy it to make it easier to manage and but that means pressure or cold or both – complications that add to storage costs.

        And as JFree points out, it takes a lot of cubic feet to store the same energy reserves as just a little coal. Natural gas can produce about 1030 Btus per cubic foot. The density of coal varies from about 40 to 58 lbs per cubic foot but if we pick 50 lbs/cu ft as the midpoint, coal can produce about 700,000 Btus per cubic foot of storage.

        1. Add to that in Houston any above ground storage would require being able to withstand hurricanes and flooding and in lots of areas you hit ground water rather quickly so deep underground tanks aren’t an option.

          1. Having a few hours storage is easy and everyone does it.
            Having a few days storage gets impractical really quickly.

          2. Salt dome storage? Like how the Strategic Petroleum Reserve caverns were made? No idea how gas-tight those are.

      3. Most natural gas is stored underground and not in tanks. Cost effective, but requires a pipeline to distribute it.

    4. Don’t forget, you’ll need even more electricity to run your mandated electric heat, stove, and car, and support electric trains and trucks.

      1. Don’t forget electric airplanes.

    5. But don’t allow the pipeline network to grow.

  3. about half of Texas’ wind turbines did freeze up

    Seems like it should be easy enough to prevent this problem.

    1. Never heard of this being a problem in Wisconsin. Just like we know how to drive on ice and snow.

      1. Keep it in WISCONSIN then; and tell Biden and Lefty federal dictators to F-OFF!!!

        1. The easiest way to reduce our energy consumption needs is to reduce the number of progressives in America.

      2. Wisconsin doesn’t have that much wind power. There’s some, but it’s not a significant part of the states over all electric supply.

        State of Wisconsin
        ENERGY SECTOR RISK PROFILE

        That’s about 6 years old, but all renewables (other then hydro) combined are only 2% of our electric power supply.

        Vs Texas getting 25% of their electricity from wind according to the article.

    2. Yes it is. Half of North Dakota’s wind turbines have NOT frozen up.

      1. Technically correct is the best kind of correct.

        In extreme cold, North Dakota windmills stand still

        Turbines across North Dakota shut down at times in the last week of January due to some of the coldest temperatures the area had seen since the mid-1990s. Wind power levels dropped significantly, more than experts anticipated.

        1. And to think the whole purpose of Windmill over Solar was that it could generate in bad weather Solar couldn’t get.

        2. Last week of January 2019. When the temperature as indicated in that article was minus 20.

          In the current cold snap – North Dakota is having problems not because of the source of its energy generation but because it is mandated to be in multi-state electric grid systems. When those have a problem, it spreads the problem around to all of them. Which would be fine as a form of ‘electric insurance’ – except that what is being pimped here is the notion that wind is per se unreliable. If that were the case, the upper plains would be the main SOURCE of the problem. Texas would be the tail and North Dakota the dog.

      2. part of this is because the dakatos get a lot more snow and less humdity, texas gets a lot more ice/sleet and the temp is closer to melting point and the snow/water will melt during day and refreeze…dakota being colder and drier makes this less of a problem.

        I had a discussion with my dad about this very topic today– he is a retired airline pilot who was based in Minneapolis but lives in Dallas and he used to be a Bush Pilot in Alaska so is very familiar with these various weather/humidity conditions and the results they can have on moving mechanical parts and this is what he told me.

    3. It is easy enough. Wind turbines in the north have cold weather kits to keep them from freezing. I would imagine that includes a heater for the bearing and an anti-icing system for the blades.

      They also cost money, and reduce the efficiency of the turbine (when the cold weather kit is operating).

      1. Nothing says “going green” than Helicopter de-icing.

        1. Stop global warming — install a de-icier!

        2. I saw that. Putting a helicopter in the air ain’t cheap.

        3. Birds ain’t gonna chop themselves

      2. They also cost money, and reduce the efficiency of the turbine (when the cold weather kit is operating).

        They reduce the efficiency even when the cold weather kit isn’t operating. Just sitting there they depreciate and break down. That’s why Texas doesn’t have them.

  4. “Renewable Energy Is Not the Chief Cause of Texas’ Power Outages”

    No shit, Sherlock. Is political science really science, Bailey?

    1. Of the 34 gigawatts generation capacity forced offline, Schauer estimates that about 27 gigawatts of coal, nuclear, and gas capacity is unavailable in part because the cold has driven up demand for natural gas for heating. “That’s the bigger problem,” he told Bloomberg News. The pipeline system is not able to deliver enough natural gas to supply both higher demand for home heating and power generation.

      Why has the cold driven up demand for natural gas? Because the windmills froze. With the emphasis on wind et al, there was no ‘need’ to expand the gas supply lines, so when wind fails the backup is inadequate. This incident merely shows that the system will always need a reliable backup of fossil fuels to meet peak demand because wind and solar are intermittent. That Bailey can’t figure this out shows he is an idiot.

      1. Bailey is not an idiot. He is a writer paid to promulgate a given point of view.

        This isn’t a one time thing, these power failures. Expect them a lot more places as Biden’s Green New Deal takes hold.

      2. If you build a N gigawatt wind generation facility and you know that wind power is essentially not storable and is not reliable you must build an equivalent on-demand generation backup facility of equal size. That is expensive. Somebody is fucking around with the rules banking on the fact that a cold snap is not likely. This is not allowed in WA state. Why did this happen in TX?

  5. Well I guess between the quick work of Joe Biden declaring an emergency and the quick work of Ron Bailey at declaring what the problem isn’t, this problem has been fixed and we can all move on to something else.

    1. How to ‘fix’ global warming in the middle of an arctic freeze-out.

    2. It’s almost like all those Texas windmills are only there because of distortions in the energy market caused by government mandates and subsides! And by “almost” I mean it’s the only reason.

      All while there’s 19 Trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves in the Permian Basin.

      1. “19 Trillion cubic feet of evil and unscientific natural gas reserves”

        Fixed that for you.

      2. If only the renewables subsidized the reliable NG systems they could have been cold weather resilient.

  6. about 27 gigawatts of coal, nuclear, and gas capacity is unavailable in part because the cold has driven up demand for natural gas for heating

    So about 27 gigawatts of gas capacity is unavailable in part because of demand for natural gas. Unless I’m missing something and in fact coal and nuclear plants are really just a clever front for natural gas generation.

    1. Yup, thanks to California’s dependence on coal, natural gas, nuclear, wind, and solar energy generation, Californians are being asked to cut back on electricity consumption between 4 and 9 PM daily.

    2. This is science. You start with you conclusion and work backwards. The who, what, when, where, and why of how a nuclear power plant can’t generate power because of the demand for natural gas isn’t important. What’s important is that it’s not green energy’s fault.

    3. Yes. I don’t understand why he brought coal and nuclear into this. Why would they be affected?

      1. They’re not. The writer is full of shit and is being deceitful.

        1. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-01-27/green-shift-brings-blackout-risk-to-world-s-biggest-power-grid

          So what happened in Europe a couple weeks ago, and what’s happening right now in Texas, should be a wake up call for California, who is vastly more dependent on renewables and gas fired plants than the Texas interconnection.

          And if California digs itself into a big enough hole, a large portion of the western US is going dark with them.

        2. Thats the new REASON mag for ya

          1. Science reporting at the rag advocating ‘Free Minds’.

      2. It may be a clunky sentence but it is not Bailey. It is direct from the Fortune article citing Shauer.

        The cold has caused valves, lines, sensors, etc to freeze up – regardless of electricity source. The cold has caused gas to be diverted to residential combustion rather than utitlies combustion. The total capacity gap – 27 gw – is the number cited. Not the subpart of that that is diverted gas.

        1. This.

      3. Freezing rain and frigid temperatures can really mess up the fuel delivery systems at coal plants…the Coal pile can freeze and that requires a great deal of manual action to be taken by the operators. Definitely a job for the guys low on seniority!

        I worked at a nuke back in the nineties and one very cold January day we lost one unit and derated to 50% power on the other because we couldn’t keep the condenser circulating water system running. The water screen system started freezing up and we couldn’t keep enough flow. Fun day out at the intake – about 8 degrees and wind cutting thru you.

        But as said in another comment, there are many support systems that are challenged by extreme cold (and extreme hot) weather.

    4. South Texas Project had a unit SCRAM from 100% per the NRC daily report…probably about 1200 megawatts…having worked at several power plants (coal and nuclear) I can tell you that extreme cold weather can challenge many of the support systems (like condenser circulating water) and the transmission system.

      But it is hard to believe that power plants aren’t top priority for NG supply…maybe we need to build some dedicated pipelines to NG power plants…

  7. So it’s not the Dem push for Green energy that’s the problem.
    The problem is the Dem push to shut down pipelines.

    1. Well played, sir.

    2. “Thou shalt have no other ‘energy gods’ before me”, Lefty Gov-Gods.

  8. The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board asserts that coal and nuclear power are “the most reliable sources of power.”

    If within a week of a dizzyingly complex election in a nation of 330,000,000 people the WaPo can declare said election “the most secure in history”, I’m confident they can also make other similar declarations.

  9. From that 2011 cold snap where 7Gw of capacity went offline:

    Significantly, the task force found that no state, regional or NERC standards mandated that generators winterize their power plants. The report recommends that states in the Southwest examine whether to require winterization plans, and NERC said it plans to work with industry to develop changes to NERC Reliability Standards to properly address winterization needs.

    The task force attributed most of the natural gas shortages and outages to prolonged freezing weather that resulted in dramatically reduced supply and unprecedented high demand. Interstate and intrastate pipelines showed flexibility in meeting demand and compensating for supply shortfalls, it said, but additional storage capacity in Arizona and New Mexico might have prevented many of the outages. Most electric outages were caused by weather-related mechanical problems such as frozen sensing lines, equipment, water lines and valves.

    IOW – they knew then that it would happen again. How it would happen again. How to prevent it from happening again.

    And yet – I guess the whole point of always having a political scapegoat for everything is that you can always ignore everything that doesn’t fit the narrative and pretend – every day – that this is all new.

    1. I guess the whole point of always having a political scapegoat for everything is that you can always ignore everything that doesn’t fit the narrative and pretend – every day – that this is all new.

      Duh. What part of “unprecedented rolling 100-year climate catastrophe” do you not understand?

      1. haha. You mean the part where those cold snaps resulting in electricity blackouts in Texas have occurred seven times in the the last 30 years? That part of the ‘unprecedented rolling 100-year climate catastrophe’?

        1. You mean the part where those cold snaps resulting in electricity blackouts in Texas have occurred seven times in the the last 30 years? That part of the ‘unprecedented rolling 100-year climate catastrophe’?

          Right. It’slike the narrative that the globe is warming in a manner that will decimate humanity is just a stalking horse or political scapegoat.

          1. It is for you. I’ve said repeatedly that all the stuff I post about land, renewables, flawed economics, etc is about intergenerational THEFT. Has nothing to do with climate projections.

            But apparently it is always the case that the stupidity of the R’s and D’s originates from you two believing that you two are the entire realm of what exists inn the world.

            1. It is for you. I’ve said repeatedly that all the stuff I post about land, renewables, flawed economics, etc is about intergenerational THEFT. Has nothing to do with climate projections.

              But apparently it is always the case that the stupidity of the R’s and D’s originates from you two believing that you two are the entire realm of what exists inn the world.

              I didn’t say anything about R’s and D’s. I said that the global warming narrative is a stalking horse or scapegoat.

              It’s funny that it still doesn’t seem to have occurred to you that someone can agree with you that it’s a scapegoat without being a partisan hack. And by ‘funny’ I mean obliviously self-absorbed and retarded.

        2. Plenty of room in all of those memory holes.

    2. One issue with winterization is that true winterization requires a complete redesign. A southern facility is built in the open air to keep cool, better access pipes, and reduce the dangers if leaks do occur.

      A northern facility is fully enclosed. Everything is inside a massive warehouse. This keeps things from freezing, but becomes horrifically hot in the summer, increases the costs of maintenance, and increases the danger.

      There are things you can do: put up wind breaks, insulate, electrical and steam tracing, and keeping water running. However, there’s only so much that can be done with an open plant

      1. There’s one other thing you can do.

        Stop blaming an energy source when the known/acceptable risks of not winterizing come home to roost.

        1. Stop blaming an energy source when the known/acceptable risks of not winterizing come home to roost.

          Again, this is you decrying others about a stalking horse that you’re propping up. The nuclear facilities were sufficiently winterized and any frozen gas pipelines are a red herring in that regard. Moreover, if the governing policy driving the push towards new sources, gas, wind, or other, is too stupid as to fail so catastrophically (and, according to you, serially) then even if the problem isn’t the source, the policy and those implementing it are seriously fucked up and should be replaced.

          1. “the policy” being *forced* by pointing and threatening GUNS!

            The left seems completely oblivious to the fact that Governments are but GUNS against people.

            A Government without guns is just another company, corporation or organization existing ONLY as a provider of a proven asset to humanity.

            Thus; The Government isn’t the place to ‘test’ progress or ‘science’ or ‘social structure’…….. It’s a place to FORCE the people!!!!!! And there a VERY FEW subjects that requires the FORCING of people; thinks like ensuring Individual Liberty and basic Justice.

            The biggest symptom of being Power-Mad is that all progress, science, social groups must have FORCE applied.

  10. If the point isn’t that America’s power grid needs are such that Biden’s plan to eliminate both coal and natural gas from power generation within 14 years is unrealistic, then I don’t know what the point of this is supposed to be.

    Australia dealt with something similar several years ago, when bad weather took down some wind farms. If renewables aren’t ready for prime time, than those who support eliminating natural gas and coal from the grid under government mandate need to account for that.

    I was once in a hospital that specialized in ventilator patients when the power went out, sitting across from the chief engineer at the time. He said the moment between the power going out and the backup system kicking in was the longest moment of his life.

    People die for lack of power in a heat wave. Businesses go under for lack of power. The security of the grid is a serious issue, and gas and coal being there to back up renewables when they fail is a serious concern. If Biden wants to eliminate them entirely, then he’ll need to take responsibility for the downsides of doing that, and principled capitalists shouldn’t be making excuses for him. Just let him twist in the wind.

    1. It’s amazing how fast the EU energy crisis got shoved under the rug so fast.

    2. People die for lack of power in a heat wave.

      Not to get too contrarian, but when the sun is shining and the breeze is blowing is when you don’t need power. Most of the people who die in heatwaves were already predisposed to dying under any adversity and/or refused to go to the local Starbucks, Wal-Mart, community pool, or public library to get out of the heat for a couple hours. Water and some shade is sufficient for most healthy human beings to survive most common heat wave conditions.

      While an hour or two of air conditioning is enough to ward of heat stroke or heat exhaustion, even exceedingly healthy humans need heat 8-16 hours every day in relatively mild winter conditions. The cold kills ~10X as many people as the heat every year. The problem is that fact doesn’t fit the global warming narrative, so useful idiots like Bailey rationalize it out of their consciousness.

      1. Elderly people dying of heat stroke in the summer because they don’t have air conditioning or because of a power outage is a regular occurrence in the southwest.

        The electric companies are slow to cut off elderly people’s power in the summer for failure to pay, and local government is quick to give the elderly free rides to their doctors’ appointments–so they aren’t waiting an hour for a bus when it’s 108 degrees outside.

        Like refusing ER service to a woman in labor because she doesn’t have insurance, some things make people really mad regardless of political persuasion, and old people dying of heat stroke for lack of power is one of them.

        1. old people dying of heat stroke for lack of power is one of them

          And I think that’s an emotion-based misconception. I think the NOAA vs. CDC dichotomy chrystallizes the issue. The NOAA says heat is the bigger killer as recorded by news/coroner reports based on weather conditions while the CDC relies on death certificates and says cold kills 2X as many people. I think it’s the boiling frog/squeaky wheel/post hoc ergo propter hoc situation. When 100 people die in a week because of a heat wave, everybody freaks out, but if 200 people die in every winter from hypothermia and another 200 die of pneumonia every year for 5 years between heat waves, no one bats an eye. Even if the 100 people that died were all elderly shut ins and the people who died of the cold in relatively mild winters were young; in the former case, it’s a social failing, in the latter, it’s their personal failure.

        2. I don’t want to disagree with your main point but I think you’re wrong to focus on those who die in summer. While it’s true that the elderly regularly die of heat stroke in summer, regular does not mean common. Elderly people dying of heat stroke is far more rare than elderly people freezing to death because of those same power outages, or worse, fuel poverty. A few people die each year from heat-related injuries. Tens of thousands die each year from cold.

          1. And I’m starting to feel like this is a, “Who was worse–Hitler or Stalin?” debate.

            Suffice it to say, power failures seem to be associated with the transition away from natural gas and coal, and if Biden wants to accelerate that transition, there will be a political price to pay.

            Cutting the power off for old people on a fixed income is a no no from a political perspective, so much so that local power companies are reluctant to do it during freezing weather or a heat wave. Biden will be subject to the same pressures if and when people start associating blackouts with the transition away from coal and natural gas–and that already appears to be the case.

            Even the people of California blame their rolling blackouts on Sacramento’s environmental policies–and they’re generally more supportive of environmental policies than most. The only reason Sacramento hasn’t taken over some of those power companies is because they don’t want the blame for the rolling blackouts and the fires that are an obvious consequence of Sacramento’s environmental policies.

            Sacramento appears to be smarter than the Biden administration in that regard. Biden campaigned on taking the blame. He promised to have us off of coal and natural gas in less than 15 years. So let’s smear it all over his face. Looks good on him!

          2. elderly die in summer bevause they keep the thermostat set on heat and dress warmly even when it is 100 outside.

            They do not however run the air conditioning and sit around in their underwear in the winter

            1. Bigoted and wrong, NashTiger. The elderly die of heat in summer because they are a) afraid to leave windows open and b) turn the air conditioner off because they’re forced to choose between paying the electric bill and paying for food and medicine.

              They are frequently also dehydrated to a greater degree than younger folks – a combination of limited mobility (it’s too much trouble to get to the sink) and poorly controlled side effects of medications.

              Are there some folks who keep the heat on even in summer? Yes. And they really are cold. A number of medical conditions cause you to lose your ability to thermoregulate. They are not just leaving the heat on because they’re stupid.

      2. “While an hour or two of air conditioning is enough to ward of heat stroke or heat exhaustion, even exceedingly healthy humans need heat 8-16 hours every day in relatively mild winter conditions.”

        As I understand, death by overheating comes about because the night time temperatures are nearly the same as day time temperatures. Without that respite that the night brings under normal circumstances, organs get damaged, and people die, though the death certificate often doesn’t attribute the death to ‘overheating.’

        1. That just doesn’t happen. We are a tropical species, after all. We evolved for >90F temperatures.

          As long as you have sufficient water and shade and do not exert yourself overmuch, you have to get above 110F before people get actually harmed by heat.

          The vast majority of people who died from heat related issues were either critically dehydrated or already on death’s door. It’s been demonstrated that the death rate of natural causes actually goes down shortly after a heat wave because the people who were going to die anyway had passed away during the heat wave itself.

          1. “We are a tropical species, after all.”

            Even in tropical and subtropical climates, night time temperatures are cooler than day time temperatures. My guess is that it has something to do with the absence of sunlight between dusk and dawn. We evolved as a species to expect a cooler night.

            “It’s been demonstrated that the death rate of natural causes actually goes down shortly”

            One of my favorite demonstrations is how the death rate actually drops by as much as 50% when doctors or nurses go on strike. The rate returns to normal when they go back to work. There are many examples of this detailed on the internet.

            1. Actually, no it doesn’t in our natural, rainforest homes. The sheer volume of humidity means there is no meaningful difference in nighttime temperatures.

              And don’t confuse reporting discrepancies with measurements.

              1. “The sheer volume of humidity means there is no meaningful difference in nighttime temperatures. ”

                The recent spate of deaths due to overheating seems to have occurred in temperate climates like Europe and America.

          2. We are a tropical species, after all.

            Just like coconuts!

        2. If that were true, the astronauts in the space station would be dying like flies. So would anyone who stays indoors with the temperatures controlled all the time by thermostat. (That would include pretty much every nursing home resident ever.)

          No, organs do not get damaged nor do people die when nighttime temperatures are the same as daytime temperatures.

          1. “No, organs do not get damaged nor do people die when nighttime temperatures are the same as daytime temperatures.”

            If day time and night time temperatures are equally hot, that spells trouble. There is no danger of overheating if day and night are equally mild.

            1. Dude, your statement just doesn’t make any medical sense and is belied by the existence of civilization in tropical regions. It’s okay to be wrong. It’s not okay to insist you’re right when people who know better correct you and point out every reason that your statement doesn’t make sense.

              1. I’m only saying that a week of scorchingly hot days followed by equally scorchingly hot nights is going to do a lot of damage, even fatal damage to the vulnerable among us. I didn’t mean to imply that it would preclude the establishment and healthy continuation of civilization. Just kill a lot of weak people, is all.

                1. You alleged above that humans need a day/night cycle of temperatures to prevent overheating. There is no medical evidence to support your claim. Overheating is a problem but the human body thermoregulates by sweating. And sweat works equally well during both day and night. Populations living in high-humidity tropical conditions (where nighttime temperatures do not change significantly from daytime temperatures) suffer none of the medical consequences that you are alleging.

                  Internal organs are not damaged by external temperatures. Internal organs suffer when the body loses its ability to thermoregulate. Absent some diseases of the thyroid (and some medical side-effects), the only practical limitation on our ability to thermoregulate is hydration. If you dehydrate, you can die – and it doesn’t matter whether that happens in day, night or any other condition.

                  1. “And sweat works equally well during both day and night. ”

                    Up to a point. If temperatures are too high, our bodies lose their ability to regulate.

                    “Populations living in high-humidity tropical conditions (where nighttime temperatures do not change significantly from daytime temperatures) suffer none of the medical consequences that you are alleging.”

                    Deaths due high night time temperatures seem to be more of a phenomenon of cities in temperate regions like America or Europe than your tropical rain forests. You might like to type the words “night time temperature overheating” into an internet search engine. I did that in Duck Duck Go and there was a lot of information on the topic.

        3. You’re not controverting my point.

          First, anyone who’s organs fail after a week of hot nights was at death’s door anyway. Second, as I indicated, even people so afflicted can be prevented from dying by a few hours of AC every night.

          Conversely, young healthy people don’t generally sleep through a week or even a few days of unheated 30 degree nights, virtually no matter how warm the day gets, without dying. A 100 degree day, or even a week of them, without environmental controls or special protection won’t kill most people of average health. A week of 30 degree nights, without environmental controls or special protection, will kill a significant number of average, healthy people.

          1. “First, anyone who’s organs fail after a week of hot nights was at death’s door anyway. ”

            This is probably why ‘overheating’ typically doesn’t appear on death certificates, even though it is a proximate cause.

            “Second, as I indicated, even people so afflicted can be prevented from dying by a few hours of AC every night. ”

            I agree but that’s cold comfort to those who don’t have AC.

            “special protection won’t kill most people of average health”

            I agree. This afflicts the very young and very old and those who were about to snuff it anyway.

            “A week of 30 degree nights, without environmental controls or special protection, will kill a significant number of average, healthy people.”

            Tell that to the native inhabitants of northern Canada, Siberia and Greenland. They’ve managed for generations to adapt to their harsh climate.

    3. “If Biden wants to eliminate them entirely, then he’ll need to take responsibility for the downsides of doing that, and principled capitalists shouldn’t be making excuses for him. Just let him twist in the wind.”

      So far, Newsom’s gotten a pass by the CA press.

      1. Still, we voted down rent control, voted down a property tax on commercial buildings, voted down the elimination of cash bail, voted against sentencing reform, and we voted down affirmative action.

        Maybe it’s wishful thinking on my part, but I think the press in California is treated a lot like Pravda was in the Soviet Union. People check it to see which way the wind is blowing, but they read it with a smirk.

        1. “People check it to see which way the wind is blowing, but they read it with a smirk.”

          Bobby Fischer taught himself Russian to read the chess problems in Pravda and other publications.

    4. A “hospital that specialized in ventilator patients”. I have no idea what that means. Can you name the hospital? There are many acute care tertiary hospitals. None of them “specialize in ventilator patients”.

      I have been there when the power died and the backup clicked up. It is indeed a scary moment. Vital functions go down. Until the gears can get things going again you can only do what you can.

      Natural disaster is what you plan for then it hits the fan. Mother Nature is without mercy.

      1. I believe they’ve merged with Kindred since then, but at the time, it was a Vencor hospital.

        https://www.bizjournals.com/louisville/stories/2003/01/13/story4.html

        Why do you ask? Specializing in certain high margin codes was the rage at the time. A whole hospital chain specializing in ventilator patients and the high margin codes associated with them wasn’t much different from HealthSouth specializing in outpatient surgery, etc. I worked at a hospital that specialized in gastroplasty for more or less the same reasons–high margin codes even with Medicaid. Just happened to be helping out a friend at Vencor at the time when the power went out.

        It seemed to be a trend, where hospital chains would specialize in certain codes because they were lucrative, and they would spread all over the country absorbing all those codes. The political will to pay a premium on those codes, however, would dry up once the premium was mostly going to the same company–especially when that company was often in the financial news for making extraordinary profits on a business with a tremendous amount of stable demand like healthcare.

        CMS would then cut the reimbursement rates on those codes with so few politically powerful people benefiting from the higher rates anymore, and the stock of those specialty chains would drop like a rock–either that or there’d be an accounting scandal like there was at HealthSouth. It was all so predictable in hindsight, but then I guess everything is predictable in hindsight.

    5. We only use fossil fuels for 80% of our total energy needs so yea, phasing them out should be easy….????????????

      So easy a caveman could do it…

      1. Yeah, you just get rid of all the cheap energy, replace it with really expensive energy in a very short time frame using two trillion in spending in 2021, and you pay for it by soaking the middle class with taxes. The Democrats won’t need to worry about the middle class rebelling against taxes and high energy prices at the polls two years from now–because Donald Trump was a racist, and the science says the taxpayers are too stupid to believe in global warming.

        This is the world progressives live in, and I think that’s what we’re supposed to believe.

      2. Obama (and vicariously VP candidate Biden) campaigned on clean coal. And inflating vehicle tires by 10%.

  11. “The wind is not solely to blame,” explained Wade Schauer, a research director at energy research consultancy Wood Mackenzie to Bloomberg News. Of the 34 gigawatts generation capacity forced offline, Schauer estimates that about 27 gigawatts of coal, nuclear, and gas capacity is unavailable in part because the cold has driven up demand for natural gas for heating. “That’s the bigger problem,” he told Bloomberg News. The pipeline system is not able to deliver enough natural gas to supply both higher demand for home heating and power generation.

    Does the statement above absolve green energy projects?

    If your sustainability and green energy program thins those other resources out through attrition and lack of development so that wind and zero-point energy farms can be built, is that a failure of the thinned-out industries?

    1. Does the statement above absolve green energy projects?

      Much less the administration(s) backing them? If I made just enough money to feed my kids and then decide to adopt a couple of special needs kids such that my income no longer feeds everyone, I’d be guilty of criminal neglect. If my biological kids had special needs and the adopted kids weren’t incapacitated, I’d still be guilty of neglect for failing to feed everyone.

      And this is doubly true as others pointed out above with the democratic position against pipelines. Like adopting more kids than you can afford *and* taking a lower-paying job.

    2. Does the statement above absolve green energy projects?

      Yes it does. The problem outlined in that paragraph is gas PIPELINE systems with relatively fixed throughput. No one has ever proposed building spare pipeline capacity for a cold snap. No one has ever proposed building pipelines based on elastic so that a whole bunch more gas could be pumped through for a very short amount of time.

      Therefore no alternative proposal has ever ‘robbed’ the two above non-proposals of money that you seem to believe was rightfully theirs. If you feel you wuz robbed of a great investment idea about gas pipelines made of rubber bands, then you should, post haste, get your pitch ready for Shark Tank or Y Combinator and make a fortune

      1. Yes it does.

        No, it doesn’t. First of all, Bailey is perpetrating some sleight-of-hand. It’s just asserted that pipeline inefficiencies caused coal and nuclear power outages without even the vague assertion of any sort of reason and you’re a retard for falling for the obvious red herring.

        Second, if anything absolves green energy it’s that the energy itself isn’t policy or self-guiding. If you’ve got $100 to buy food and you spend it on an air fryer or grow lights and not potatoes, you’re a retard and your investment in an air fryer is a bad decision. It’s not the air fryer’s fault but the purchase of the air fryer is the problem.

        This isn’t Texas’ (or California’s or Arizona’s) first blackout. As you point out above, they knew where the problems were and how to fix them but they didn’t. Presumably, either they really like torturing people at cost, they didn’t have the money required to make the necessary changes, they were prevented from making the changes even if they had the money, or some combination of the three. Regardless of their motivations, the shift to buying green was a bad decision.

        1. “…you’re a retard for falling for the obvious red herring…”

          This is probably true, although JFree’s constant bullshit may also be flat-out dishonesty.

          1. ….. JFree’s constant bullshit may also be flat-out dishonesty.
            Not clever enough for that.

  12. Misleading title. I expect better of Reason..

    Reliance on renewables IS EXACTLY the cause of the blackouts – nobody is served by lying about it.

    If you are green, take a remedial math class. You cannot turn off the excess capacity provided by coal-fired and not have difficulty handling load surges. You can’t buy power from neighboring grids when they are experiencing load surges too.

    Please refrain from writing click-bait.

    1. So what was the cause of the blackouts in Texas in Feb 2011? How about 1989? Were those caused by the apprehensions about future dependence on renewables?

      1. Those were blackouts caused by downed power lines.

        These are deliberate rolling blackouts caused by insufficient power availability. People’s power is being deliberately cut.

        There’s still some outage due to power line damage, but the primary issue is the lack of generation.

        These aren’t comparable.

    2. It’s another gaslighting attempt. The major reason for this debacle is the move to rely on wind for nearly a quarter of the states energy supply. Of course Bailey and his ilk will distort the truth in order to promote the new order.

    3. Not this time. Texas managers, who design and build plants, are willing to design operating conditions up (or down) to a point, and they choose not to pay for what they consider excess design. Our weather just got into that range they didn’t design for.

      You cannot blame renewables, for a problem equally plaguing old traditional technologies. If it was ONLY wind having the problem, that would be different.

  13. New headline:
    Why on earth aren’t we building nuclear power plants as fast as we can?

    1. Because we’d all die? That’s what the Woke would tell you.

    2. Because they are a huge mega long term investment with uncertain returns for the energy company.

  14. Hey, Bailey, I hope your balls fall off you green shill.

    Now I have to head home and see if my cat has frozen to death inside my house in Austin.

    1. *Laughs at you in northern Canadian*

    2. It’s too bad Ron spent all his credibility on pushing the party line for mass covid testing and his anti HCQ crusade, because now he doesn’t have any left to burn for warmth.

  15. It is quite humorous that the problems are occurring mostly in Texas. Texas is VERY unique among electricity markets and unique primarily to a)avoid federal jurisdiction as some interstate thang and b)to keep lower reserves/capacity in winter because summer is the only season that Texas thinks matters. Whoops.

    1. notably missing in the commentariat today are those R’s who supposedly believe that supply demand problems need to solved via pricing.

      Not that I think that would actually work in this case because this seems more like a capacity issue than a marginal production issue. But at least that’s more interesting than the usual moronic R shit.

      1. “those R’s who supposedly believe that supply demand problems need to solved via pricing

        Pretty sure that’s a libertarian belief in general champ. We’re not solely about how sex and drugs work for the upper-middle class elite.

        Have you thought about going back to Huffpo?

      2. OK, here’s one.

        Except that the power generators aren’t free to set pricing – at any time.

        So, we’re back to political interference screwing up the market again.

        1. See the link below. The ERCOT North Hub had an annual average price in 2020 of $26/ MWh. The price for 5 minute power (probably as close as you can get to a spot market) approached $11,000/MWh in the last few days. The price for next-day power today was $1490/MWh.

          And yet that price volatility is NOT resolving much in the way of blackouts.

          1. And… it’s worth mentioning wholesale power is priced at the legal limit of $9000/MWh for a couple days now. I dunno, it’s a designed market like the entire electric industry, maybe it will work better next time when generating companie wake up to the price they didn’t get because their plant controls froze up.

        2. ERCOT north and south hub prices are actually a product for electricity contracts on the Intercontinental Exchange. Which trades in TX as well as in NY, London, Singapore – for round the clock pricing from financing centers.

          I didn’t know anything of this before a few mins ago. I assumed there was probably some bureaucratic obstacle to a pricing system. But this really is a more fundamental problem.

    2. Another example of how unique Texas is

      Unlike other U.S. electric grid operators, ERCOT does not have a capacity market – payments made to operators to ensure power needs in coming years – to handle events like the freeze. Instead, regulators use scarcity pricing to ensure reliability, but that can cause real-time prices to soar due to shortages, economists said.

    3. “keep lower reserves/capacity in winter because summer is the only season that Texas thinks matters”

      Probably because it’s Texas and not Minnesota. This isn’t exactly an annual event.

      1. It’s happened twice now in a ten year period. I would think a 1/5 probability event is significant enough to plan for

        1. Assuming (like CA) your budget isn’t being eaten by the requirement for ‘sustainable’ energy.
          Got any evidence otherwise?

        2. No it hasn’t. In 2011 7Gw of power went out. This time 34. I lived in b Houston in 2011. We didn’t have snow from Sunday night Monday morning still on the ground Wed afternoon.

  16. I’ve known a number of people down south that only had a heat pump for heat in the winter, and they use an insane amount of electricity to run. I’m curious if this contributes to the peak demand. I don’t actually know the standards for heat in Texas.

    1. Heat pumps are *reasonable* under normal conditions, but they typically have electric resistance backup for very low temperatures, which is horrible in terms of energy consumption. The design assumption is this won’t happen very often, and so it isn’t a problem worth solving.

      That works in Miami where temperatures are much milder and electric resistance is commonly the main method of heating a house. Miami utility peaks in the winter as a result, despite using lots of air conditioning in the summer. It’s a design that is weaker when you have really cold weather like we just got.

      But the problem is not heat pumps really, it’s the controls freezing up in ALL KINDS of industrial sites, including gas generators and nuclear plants. Shamefully the South Texas Nuclear Plant had 2 units down in the 1989 freeze, and 1 unit down during this one. Human dumbness knows few boundaries.

  17. Woods McKenzie? I got on the web site..didn’t read like a “scientific” facts matter site..very woke, very into “inclusion”, very into “renewables.

    Let’s wait a few weeks to get all the facts. Bailey is like so many of the Reason “libertarians”..they are not libertarian but can’t get a gig at Salon or Vanity or New Yorker so they pretent to be libertarians to have a paying gig. It would be nice if Reason’s Science “expert” had a hard science or engineering degree and at least a few years in research or real engineering…

    1. ” It would be nice if Reason’s Science “expert” had a hard science or engineering degree and at least a few years in research or real engineering…”

      I don’t really care what kind of degree, if any, Bailey has. But science and engineering are two distinct disciplines. The better solution perhaps would be to have one journalist on the science beat and another on the engineering beat. Or maybe the science beat split into two, with one science journalist on the ‘hard’ sciences like chemistry and physics, and a second for the ‘soft’ sciences like biology, medicine and environmental studies.

      I think your theory that writers at Reason are pretending to be libertarian because they failed to get the jobs they really wanted is far fetched and fanciful.

  18. Oh and I forgot..how do you store renewable electricity again?

    1. You keep it in the sun until you need it.

      Imagine an alien race listening to you ridiculous shills making the case for why burning up all the hydrocarbons in the ground is more efficient than solar.

      1. “You keep it in the sun until you need it”

        Tell us again about how photovoltaic cells work on cloudy days and at night, Tony.
        Have you discovered, in your scientific research, some new type of battery or capacitor to store the energy needed to make up for the down times?

        I’d tell you that the children’s internet is over there. ===>
        But you’re too creepy to be allowed near kids.

        1. Doubt that Tony is capable of finding the kiddies internet, or avoiding being laughed at there if he does so.

        2. There are experiments with microgrids that include battery storage as a backup. I know a couple of places that are doing this; I’ll have to ask some people I know how they’ve held up.

          1. Look up the headline: “Indian Villagers Protest ‘Fake’ Solar Energy”

            These have been tried, and they typically run into the same instability and insufficient capacity issues. While they would generally work if everyone just used a single light bulb and phone charger, people want refrigerators. They want televisions, and they want teakettles and clothes irons.

            The problem is capacity. Grid scale storage doesn’t exist for a reason, and that reason is that it would be absurdly massive. I’m talking that the amount of Lithium on the planet is a limiting factor. You can store energy with pumped hydroelectric storage, but that is limited by your maximum hydroelectric capacity and it plays heck with downstream water flows that the dams were supposed to regulate. I’ve also seen proposals for hydrogen production as a storage medium, but I don’t think it’s in use anywhere.

            There is also a severe power loss in any storage system that has to be accounted for.

        3. “Tell us again about how photovoltaic cells work on cloudy days and at night, Tony.”

          These cells require light to produce electricity. Luckily the sun shines all the time 24 hours a day, we just need the right grid like a high voltage direct current system. This would allow us to avail ourselves of the sunlight at night time as the sun shines on the opposite side of the globe. This new HVDC grid would be an expensive bit of infrastructure, but a full on commitment to solar doesn’t make much sense with out it.

          1. Infrastructure to transport power between states would be absurdly massive and expensive and incur significant losses of power. The infrastructure to transmit power intercontinentally would be ludicrous. The power losses in the lines would be massive, even with ultra-high-voltage DC lines. This would never work outside of a computer game. Anyone who proposes it doesn’t have the faintest idea about how transmission of power works.

            1. “Infrastructure to transport power between states would be absurdly massive and expensive ”

              I agree, and that’s a perfect reason why America’s conservative, risk averse energy sector resists the idea. China doesn’t and have invested heavily in it, while America bails out failing airlines. They plan eventually to build a network that stretches from the East China sea to the Atlantic ocean, (much of the tech comes from Seimens) including rail links. They are working on a hyperloop that supposedly runs at 1000 km/h.

            2. Staying on fossil fuels isn’t an option, so you better dream up an idea quickly.

              1. Then be prepared to freeze to death when the cold fucks up the windmills and the snow covers the solar panels.

      2. Funny, I actually have solar panels on my house. You know what’s been providing the bulk of my energy needs through this cold snap?

        The local gas and electric companies.

        1. You won’t be able to watch sportsball uninterrupted through natural disasters once the natural disasters get bad enough that they destroy your house.

          This isn’t a difference of culture, and it’s not a debate about anything. We either figure it out or the species doesn’t make it.

          Take all the time you need, it will only cost more.

          1. You won’t be able to watch sportsball uninterrupted through natural disasters once the natural disasters get bad enough that they destroy your house.

            I don’t live in a tornado zone, so I’m not sure what exactly you’re trying to warn me about here.

            This isn’t a difference of culture, and it’s not a debate about anything. We either figure it out or the species doesn’t make it.

            It’s precisely a debate. You think the apocalypse is coming because you’re terrified you might freeze to death, while the hayseeds burning wood and growing their own food live through the winter.

            1. I think the apocalypse is coming because there won’t be a habitable environment for human beings and many other species.

              You people think so big when it comes to how much of the planet you want to turn into your fuckpad. Think big when it comes to survival too.

              1. I think the apocalypse is coming because there won’t be a habitable environment for human beings and many other species.

                LOL. The Inuit managed to live in ice houses in subzero temperatures for thousands of years. Native Americans lived in all kinds of severe climate conditions, without the benefit of modern conveniences, and managed to not die out. If we can’t survive what you’re predicting, it’s because we’ve lost the ability to adapt, not because the weather is too severe.

                All you’re demanding is that your personal geolocation be set at a comfy 70 degrees in perpetuity. If you want that, go to Hawaii. Meanwhile, the rural hayseeds will continue chopping wood and keeping their homes warm in the fireplace while you urbanite squishes freeze to death and start cannibalizing each other because the trucks aren’t bringing your food into the city.

  19. With a pump storage facility.

  20. We can bitch about renewables and accepting these rare events but you’re all forgetting something else.

    If Texas and the surrounding states were not using different power distribution standards – if interconnecting was as easy for them as it is for Canada and the NE – then there wouldn’t have been much of an issue as they’d have run in power from the neighboring districts to make up the shortfall.

    There are advantages to globalization as well as disadvantages. By having a global network (of food or power or labor) then disasters in one area can be mitigated by others bringing in resources.

    In the old days you ate what was in season where you were at and hoped that the local weather was good for the harvest. Today you eat whatever you want whenever you want from a choice of foods from around the world.

  21. The only thing between now and the future when it comes to energy production is politics and the evil rich corporations who fund it.

    I don’t blame people for their greed. If someone told me I could get a gazillion dollars for selling something dinosaurs made before the human species even existed, I’d be tempted too. Logically, I couldn’t have made that thing, and I have no right under any conceivable rational thought to be entitled to profit from it, but hey a dollar is a dollar.

    That’s why we have state force. It’s also why you don’t want state force for this particular cause (others are fine).

    1. Wow, Ken is right. You really are just dumber than a box of hair.

      1. “Wow, Ken is right. You really are just dumber than a box of hair.”

        Yep, it is more and more obvious that Tony, turd, sarc, M4e and others who might be seen as dishonest by those capable of critical thought, that is not likely true.
        The most likely assumption is stupidity beyond the ability to differentiate between their fantasies and an objective reality.
        It’s possible in Tony’s case the cause is his common drunkenness, but if that doesn’t qualify for stupidity, I’m not sure what would.

    2. Tony seems to think that you pump oil from the ground into your gastank, and that there’s no such thing as atmospheric distillation, hydrotreaters, hydocrackers, isomerization plants, catalytic reformers, alkylation, etc.

      This is what happens when you skip all your middle school science classes to blow hobos behind the Circle K.

      1. But the only one denying the existence of an entire chunk of the equation is you, who pretends that there are no unaccounted for costs to go along with all those unaccounted for benefits.

        We should profit from natural resources until it stops being profitable. If someone is making money on them while passing on all the costs to humanity, that’s stealing.

        1. Wow, you don’t actually understand what you’re even talking about.
          I just gave you a whole list of costs you didn’t account for, you living parody.
          Be honest, you’re just copying arguments you don’t comprehend from a list of talking points you were given, and hoping that they fit. Aren’t you.

          1. Would you believe I worked tangential to petroleum engineering for years? I mostly made fun of the terminology. I like sucker rod pumping and bottomhole flushing.

            Lol, engineers are humorless autistic freaks who don’t understand science.

    3. “The only thing between now and the future when it comes to energy production is politics and the evil rich corporations who fund it.”

      It’s certainly true that our fossil fuel producers have a lot of skin in game exploiting these sources, but there are also technical hurdles we’ve yet to clear. Maybe the biggest is batteries. We obviously need more efficient, less toxic ones. The Tesla vehicles are pretty impressive, but still the batteries take up to about a quarter of the total weight.

      There’s a lot of research and development that goes into improving batteries, but it receives no attention at all from Ron Bailey, whose rice bowl this is.

      Also it’s simply not true that Tony blows dead hoboes behind the Circle K. I saw one get up and walk away. (That is a joke, by the way.)

  22. I guess we don’t have to worry about wind turbines killing thousands of migrating fowl when they’re frozen.

  23. “Renewable Energy Is Not the Chief Cause of Texas’ Power Outages”

    Nor is climate change the “chief cause” of CAs’ rotating power outages or CA’s wildfires; the D’s failure to deal with the state’s major issues far exceeds that.
    By supposedly addressing climate change, Moonbeam and Newsom are more that capable of delivering the goods.

  24. It still begs the question of how turbines are going to provide electricity in the colder areas.

    1. No worries, there won’t be cold areas soon. Though some areas will be extremely cold occasionally while we transition to Venus-like.

      1. Venus like? The primary cause of the temps there it that the rotation of Venus (a day) is longer that a year on Venus? The Sun lingers on one side for a long time. Did you know that dumbass?

        1. Tony has absolutely no education. I’ve never seen anyone fuck up middle-school science and history so often.
          It’s almost like he’s Rush Limbaugh’s parody sockpuppet of a progressive.

        2. The laws of physics say carbon dioxide works the same everywhere.

      2. Venus temp is 800 C. Not gonna happen here any time soon. If it does, we will have much bigger problems.

        1. Or maybe not because we will all have vaporized

  25. It is all the same problem. The rush to shut down coal plants and replace them with gas and renewables. The infrastructure was not updated for all the gas plants fuel needs. It is going to be the same with the rush to electric cars, the electrical infrastructure will not handle the load and there will be more failures. And yes the wind turbines that froze up are a major part of the problem, they almost half the power available to Texas. It is poor planning, it is poor infrastructure, it is unintended consequences. I worked in power plants for over 30 years, oil, coal and gas plants. The failure was not from the plants,, but from the planning.
    Reason – Woke Libertarians For the Powerless Future

    1. Also the gas pipelines would not have failed to deliver the needed gas if the wind turbines had been working. Just more spin doctoring.

      1. I am quite excited about the development of solid state wind powered generators. They have no moving parts thus are cheaper, less maintenance and no worry about bird strikes.

        “We show that a solid-state apparatus with no moving parts can harvest electrical power from the wind. This apparatus, a Solid-state Wind-Energy Transformer (SWET), uses coronal discharge to create negative air ions, which the wind carries away from the SWET. The SWET harnesses the wind-induced currents and voltages to produce electrical power. We report on the operation of a low-power, proof-of-concept SWET. This device consists of a number of parallel electrical wires: “emitter wires,” which have numerous, sharp coronal emitters attached to it, and bare “attractor wires.” When a negative bias voltage is applied to the emitter wires relative to the attractor wires, the coronal emitters generate negative ions. The wind carries off these ions, which eventually settle to ground. The power imparted to the ions by the wind is extracted from the current returning to the SWET from the ground. This proof-of-concept SWET demonstrates that it is possible to generate net electrical power from the wind using only air ions. We estimate that SWET can be scaled up to commercially interesting powers by increasing the number and length of emitter and attractor wires and by controlling the bias voltage. SWETs have the potential to produce large amounts of electrical power at low costs with little negative environmental impact.”
        https://aip.scitation.org/doi/full/10.1063/1.5109776

        (Published more than 1 1/2 years ago in a scientific journal, but still no mention of the idea in the pages of Reason.)

        1. There are other problems with conventional turbines this would eliminate. Of course there’s the drone. and constant vibration that must have an effect on all life, from earth worms to plants to people. Another is the flicker, the unsung effect. We hear about the dead birds, the noise, the constant maintenance, but never about the shadows the blades cast. Apparently those who live near windmills find the flicker psychologically unsettling, and given the choice would prefer an unflickering environment.

  26. “Renewable Energy Is Not the Chief Cause of Texas’ Power Outages”
    Yes it is.
    I was watching an honest new agency, “NewMax”. They had on a Texas official that explained it. Texas pumps their gas directly from the ground, and they have so much natural gas. That pumping is all done only by wind turbines. When the wind turbines failed, they could not pump the gas the fossil fuel plants needed. The wind turbines failures was the DIRECT CAUSE of the fossil plants going down. It also did not need to happen, there is deicing equipment, that wind turbines in the north use to prevent freezing, but Texas decide they were not going to pay for this technology. Again poor planning and unintended consequences.
    Reason again spins the truth. Wokeness in action.

    1. Uh… natural gas pumping is NOT done only by wind turbines, I don’t think that could possibly be true. Sorry to be so blunt, but false info really poisons the discussion.

      Ever think about the alternative explanation, that control systems froze up on all kinds of generating, not just renewables? Conspicuously, they have not solved that problem for natural gas generating plants, nor even for the South Texas Nuclear Plant. They will figure it out someday.

  27. Energy diversity is the solution including nuclear reactors.

  28. The grid is the problem: Solar panels and wood pellet stoves are the way to go.

  29. Devoting resources to “renewable” energy schemes means fewer resources to thermal energy production so when the alternate sources fail, a greater burden is placed on coal and gas generation systems.

  30. Abbott is a willful ignoramus. He’s the one who decided not to fund upgrades to the Texas grid. They had a similar winter storm event 10 years ago, where the universal recommendations were to upgrade and winterize the grid. He decided to ignore those suggestions. And in addition, Greenland has wind turbines that operate in freezing conditions.

    And as Ronald so astutely points out, it’s a storm that only increases potential energy from wind turbines. If the infrastructure freezes, and you ignored all suggestions to protect against that, well then, you’re the idiot, Abbott.

    1. We lost 7GW in 2011. People went 8 hours. There wasn’t snow on the ground for three days straight. Not quite the same.

      1. Exactly right, not the same. This is much worse. But none of that is the point, anyway.

        2011 was your warning shot in Texas. It was the canary in the coal mine. Things can get worse. Guess what? They did. Much worse.
        Here is the report that highlighted the fact that the 2011 event was a warning that the grid needed to be winterized, if you didn’t want another event that could be worse.

        “Winterization of a gas well requires both capital expenditures and annual operating expense. Table 6 identifies the cost per well of these items.
        In Northern regions of the country this equipment is normally part of the original well design and installed as a matter of necessity along with all other production equipment. On wells that can cost well in excess of $1 million each, these costs are not as significant as when compared to a retrofit after the well has been placed on production. This investment needs to be weighed against the impact and ramifications of the reduction in gas flow, power reductions and outages during this time period. (Ref 4, 19, 20)”

        Going to cost some money? Yep.

        Ignored. So now you get this week.

        Everything is bigger in Texas, right? I guess that also includes excuses. Let me spell it out…you’re living with that down there, not because of a New York congresswoman, not because of AOC, not because of the failure of renewable energy, and not because of a “green new deal” that doesn’t even exist currently.

        You’re living with that because of an idiot governor and the idiots who elect him. And if you’re one of the ones who elected him, you too.

        https://www.ferc.gov/sites/default/files/2020-04/08-16-11-report.pdf

        1. I didn’t blame anyone else. I just said it isn’t the same. A lot of the issue was also natural gas supply, but just the plants themselves. Wind energy isn’t too blame but neither is it the solution.

          1. Peace. I hope you and yours are ok and emerge unscathed.

            1. You realize that CA has wildfires that kill 20-30 people seemingly every year, because their government refuses to clear out dry brushes, cut down trees, and stop housing from being set in fire hazardous zones? And they have to purchase power from states like Texas because their green energy schemes aren’t enough to generate power for the whole state?

              Your liberals pals vote for idiotic candidates in their states all their lives and than move to states like Texas. They toasted Cuomo for a whole year. Given your naked bias, I’d seek more objective opinions and not condemn Abbott for the outage, thanks.

              1. You’re welcome.

    2. So, no money to upgrade the grid but money to build out non-winterized wind power? Sounds like Abbott was an idiot and the people giving him money to build out green energy were idiots too.

      Keep whoring for terrible energy policy and the idiots who enact it and then pretend like it’s partisan hacks who are the problem. Dumbass.

      1. It was non-winterized oil, coal and gas that was primarily responsible, not wind, idiot. And plenty of money in Texas, particularly from the energy community to fix all that. But then, you’ve always displayed a lack of reading comprehension skills.
        But hey, enjoy your evening!

        Best,
        Jack

  31. Ah, there’s your problem. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas is running things.

  32. Global Warming is apparently here to stay, even with less planes and cars on the road.

    Maybe we’ll be global temperature dip by 2,3 degrees if we shutdown for 3,4 more years?

  33. I would not want to have a EV in Texas or anywhere else where the grid could go down

    1. So because Texas is unregulated we have different companies sell us the electricity. I actually have a company that I pay to then constantly shop for the lowest prices. But anyway, one option is just paying whatever the whole sale rate is.
      The friend of a friend story is that I guy paid $600 to charge his Tesla because the prices spiked and it was his only form of transport.

      1. That could actually have happened, but Tesla guy should have called an Uber.

  34. Between pipe repair jobs, while trying to stay warm, I have read a lot of articles about the power situation. (Most national media isn’t even discussing the water issues.)
    This is a better article of you want better information. https://www.texasmonthly.com/news/what-went-wrong-with-texass-main-electric-grid-and-could-it-have-been-prevented/?fbclid=IwAR28fKfCNTsOw7R80-PZPqEfjLtBBjKN_WiOUhmHBscIXqZsECyb9DhjXuA

    1. Good article, thanks for posting.

      Here’s the warning being sounded everywhere, throughout the year in recent weather events. We’ve been told for 2 decades now that climate change will increase storms and storm severity. What were once in 100 year events are now more frequent. The east coast sees more powerful hurricanes more frequently (Texas too). West coast more fires from dry conditions.

      Now of course the usual idiots will chime in with “so much for global warming, eh?” But science has warned us for years what can be expected everywhere, not just Texas. This is our costly future.

      So 10 years ago Texas was warned by FERC that it needed to winterize power. It could have made a 5 year plan to do that and spread out costs. A cost-benefit analysis was made, and those recommendations were ignored. These weather events aren’t going to get better over time, or so science says. Your article says another cost-benefit analysis needs to be made. Let’s hope you come up with the right 5 year plan this time.

      Good luck!

      1. I’ve lost the article that discussed the problems with winterizing Texas plants, but the general concept was that it isn’t just adding a few things here or there, it’s a complete redesign to make them like northern plants. The problem is that those northern plants would like fail when temperatures reach 100. We reach 100 on multiple days every year.
        So things were added to some of the plants, mostly northern ones, that would help but a complete redesign to inclose all the functions wasn’t possible or wise.
        This is the same with winterizing the windmills. We would lose effeciency for 350 days a year or more on the chance that we wouldn’t lose power on the 10 or so days it might ice each year.
        And again many of the records we tied or broke were 70 to 100 years old, so we got a hundred year storm about a hundred years later. It would be interesting to see if the plants would have been ok in weather like 2011.

      2. A snipett from Dallas weather.
        The high temperature Sunday was 22 degrees, which is 38 degrees below normal for Feb. 14.

        It also is the coldest Valentine’s Day on record by five degrees. The previous record was set back in 1951 with highs only reaching 27 degrees.

        1. Well, it seems Texas can just look internally as to possible solutions. El Paso.

          “We had less than 3,000 of our customers that were impacted by an outage that was five minutes or less,” El Paso Electric VP of Customer Care Eddie Gutierrez said. El Paso isn’t supplied by the same power grid as most of the state, but it also saw record-low temperatures this week. A spokesperson for El Paso Electric said their system was still running smoothly thanks to a plan a decade in the making. “The big lesson of the freeze of 2011 was to make sure we’re just as prepared for extreme weather in the cold,” Gutierrez said.”

          https://kfoxtv.com/news/local/while-millions-of-texas-homes-face-rolling-blackouts-experience-keeps-el-pasos-lights-on

          1. From the same article

            “After subzero temperatures rocked the Borderland ten years ago, the company decided to winterize their power plants, prepping them to withstand storms like this week’s.”

            Ts a cost I guess they felt was worth the investment.

        2. And here was a study back in 2018 that said you can expect more of the same, more polar vortex events like we are experiencing.

          “Anthropogenic global warming is widely expected to increase certain types of weather extremes, including more intense and frequent heat waves and droughts as well as heavy precipitation events19,20,21. Surprisingly, however, over the past two to three decades, the increase in extreme weather has included more (not fewer) severe cold-air outbreaks and heavy snowfalls observed both in North America and Eurasia6,12,15,18,22,23,24,25.”

          https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-018-02992-9

          1. Back in 1988 Ted Dansen said we had 10 years to solve global warming before the planet was destroyed. Algore built a temple of worship out of his weather yodeling. Meanwhile back in reality, the largest fusion generator in our solar system has entered into a quiet phase which began in 2008 thus global cooling, in spite of politicians contortions. The nerve of that sun.

  35. Well, I was going to comment that in a few months it’ll be warm and all will be forgotten, mistakenly. But I see Ted Cruz didn’t want to wait for a few months, and instead jetted to warm Cancun. So you’ve got a governor who decided to BS the Texas people by laying blame initially on a non-existent green new deal ( he’s had to eat those words), and now a Senator who flew out of danger because, you know, he can.

    But heck. These are people who run on a platform of government doing nothing, it gets them elected, so who can blame them for doing nothing. But whatever you do, don’t take away their paychecks! Doing nothing is expensive!

  36. Once this gullible child is gone, Reason needs to ask three questions before anointing another “science” scribbler:
    1. What is energy?
    2. What are the units that measure energy?
    3. What are the dimensions of those units?
    It is a far, far better thing to publish an ethical magazine with NOBODY listed as a “science” writer than to allow ignorant infiltrators to drag down the magazine’s reputation.

  37. You need to gird your loins when the power gird has issues.
    Not to worry, Joe is going to eliminate coal and you can heat your home with green energy. You’ll take your money, and throw it in the fireplace.

  38. This article is an argument for more and bigger pipelines. Was that the intent?

  39. pretty convincing graph seems to show wind as the issue, or at the very least, the first energy source to tapout and cry “uncle”.

    https://www.zerohedge.com/markets/cascend-data-shows-wind-power-was-chief-culprit-texas-grid-collapse

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