The Truth About Texas Blackouts And What Needs To Be Done

This is an excellent op-ed by Chuck DeVore who is Vice President of the Texas Public Policy Foundation. As DeVore points out, unfortunately, Texas and many Western states are at risk for rolling blackouts this summer.

Texas’ blackouts – here’s the truth about why they happened and what we have to do next

By Chuck DeVore, Fox News, 03/02/2021

There are two general reasons for Texas’ prolonged power outages

As Texas entered a deep freeze on Feb. 14, Dallas, Austin and San Antonio broke seven record lows over three days. Ice-laden trees snapped power lines. Wind turbines ground to a halt while some reliable natural gas, coal and nuclear plants failed to get energy to the grid. Electricity demand hit an all-time high – but the supply wasn’t available, plunging some four million Texans into the cold and darkness.

As massive gas-powered turbines spun down across Texas and the lights went out, an aggressive narrative spun up: the electric grid failed in Texas, not because wind and solar failed, but due to a lack of regulatory power to force the electric industry – from natural gas producers to pipeline operators to power generators, and lastly, the transmission line firms – to winterize. It was a failure of Texas’ unregulated free market. And further, this extreme weather event was a harbinger of more to come due to climate change, necessitating even more wind and solar power.

This narrative, pushed out by the renewable industry and environmentalists, found a sympathetic mouthpiece in corporate media.

The narrative is wrong.

There are three electric grids in the continental U.S with Texas having its own grid providing power to about 90% of Texans. This electrical independence allows Texans to escape a certain amount of federal meddling in its electric affairs – though it also makes Texans largely responsible for their own problems.

Addressing those problems, the Texas Legislature held marathon hearings a week after the freeze. That testimony, and an increasing flow of information from operators on the ground, has produced a more complete picture of what went wrong during a storm that plunged Texas into a deep freeze colder than most of Alaska.

There are two general reasons for Texas’ prolonged power outages, one proximate to the storm and involving a series of on-the-ground mistakes and cold-related failures, and one the result of long-term policy.

However, it was the policy failures over 20 years that allowed the storm-related failures to become persistent and deadly.