Green on the Grid:  Texas is a Huge Red Flag


Count me among those somewhat surprised to learn that the electric grid of the State of Texas, perhaps best known for oil production (and proud of it), incorporates wind turbines in its electric grid.  In fact,

… wind generation ranks as the second-largest source of energy in Texas, accounting for 23% of state power supplies last year

But as you have probably seen, this “green energy” source has turned into a big Achilles heel for Texas’ electric grid in the cold front that has descended on that state and much of the country. As of yesterday,

Frozen wind turbines have caused almost half of Texas’s wind generation capacity to go offline in the midst of an “unprecedented storm”.

The Lone Star state is under a state of emergency after freezing conditions swept the region, causing dangerously icy roads and leaving nearly 3 million people without power.

In the latest, frozen wind turbines led to a drop in Texas’ wind power from thirty one gigawatts to six and there are currently 3.4 million power outages. [Update: Texas’ power woes are now attributed to a freezing of both frozen natural gas wells and frozen wind turbines.] The situation is getting worse, not better.

Texas, and other states, has resorted to rolling blackouts.  In below-freezing temperatures, this is literally a life-threatening situation for states like Texas which rely on electricity for heat (and lots of other critical activities).

A small but vocal group of advocates, promoted by many gauzy-eyed members of the mainstream media, have for years been pushing to transition to green energy away from fossil fuel.  In Rhode Island,they have had some limited success.  Bills proposing to tax fossil fuels, purportedly to curb their use, have been filed again this session at the Rhode Island General Assembly.  A couple of weeks ago, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse renewed his call for a tax … oh, excuse me, “carbon pricing”, at the federal level on fossil fuels.

One of Governor Gina Raimondo’s last official acts a couple of months ago, as she herself waltzes out of the state and away from the consequences of her own orders, was to commit Rhode Island to TCI (Transportation Climate Initiative), a proposed regional gas tax on Rhode Islanders designed to make transportation more “green” and move cars and trucks away from fossil fuel and towards green energy.

“Green” energy sounds good and conjures up images of green grass and flowers and butterflies flitting.  The problem is that, whether for the grid or transportation, green energy is not remotely realistic.

It is exorbitantly expensive.  Its production has a very large and intrusive footprint.  Perhaps most alarmingly, as Texas is experiencing, it is unreliable and intermittent and, accordingly, should absolutely not be incorporated into a grid’s baseload power capacity. Texas is not the only state to have made this mistake. In fact, California has led the way. And last summer, grid operators had to institute rolling blackouts due to the issue with “net demand peak”; when the sun went down, so did the power generation – but not the demand for power in the sweltering evening.

Coincidentally, the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity just released the results of a poll it recently commissioned to gauge support for the financial cost of TCI in Rhode Island.  It found

… almost 20% more Rhode Islanders oppose than support the plan for a new TCI gas tax as a solution to reduce carbon emissions, after learning of its potential negative economic impacts on lower-income families and on their own financial security.

Smart people.  Funny, by the way, how those who push for and mandate green energy never, ever talk about its impact on everyone’s electric bill, HVAC costs or their cost of transportation.

In addition to committing the state to the pointlessly higher gasoline and diesel taxes of TCI (if it even happens; some states have wisely opted out or are re-considering participation), Governor Raimondo had, a year ago, signed a flat out delusional Executive Order that the entire state shall be able to only purchase “100% renewable electricity”.  Noticeably missing from the order is any guidance as to how to possibly carry this out, much less how residents and businesses would be able to afford the astronomical spike in their electric bill if this impossibility were accomplished.

The Center’s poll focused on the high financial cost of green energy.  As we are seeing in Texas, the cost goes way beyond financial.

We are all watching with dismay the suffering, serious damage and deaths that a grid comprised of “only” 23% green energy generates. [Update: Texas’ power woes are now attributed to a freezing of both frozen natural gas wells and frozen wind turbines.] Governor Raimondo has commanded that Rhode Island’s grid realize the vision of extremist green advocates: 100% green energy.  100% green would mean 100% unreliability.  100% rolling blackouts.  Freezing in the winter, sweating in the summer and 100% dark everywhere when the sun goes down.

While a comparatively small portion of Texas and California’s grids derive power from green energy, their winter and summer ordeals have been huge red flags about the obvious weaknesses and fatal flaws of renewable energy.  We have now seen enough to reject the green vision that highly misguided, extremist advocates and political-resume building politicians are trying to inflict on us at huge costs on every level.

  • Pjgj28a
    • Monique Chartier

      Wow. Environmental extremists want green energy — but they don’t want the necessary infrastructure. (Thanks for sharing.)

  • Guest

    Gee! What took you so long to falsely and misleadingly blame Texas massive state-wide power outages on renewable energy wind turbines????

    In fact Texas has suffered from a total on 7 winter power outages over many years and has never upgraded or winterized it energy systems over the years. This was a primer time disaster event waiting to happen and it is man-made due to Texas mismanagement!

    Texas electric power grid is unique in the lower 48 states as it is not connected to other states so Texas would not fall under Federal Government regulations for inter-state electricity. Texas electrical grid is like living on an isolated island like the Hawaii Islands but Hawaii has backup power supplies.

    Texas gets the bulk of it electric power from natural gas power plants, coal, nuclear and renewable energy wind fill in the rest. At maximum, wind provides 22% of electric power but this is winter and Texas had discounted wind power to only 10% of its total winter power generation leaving the bulk to natural gas power plants.

    Because the natural gas lines and wells were not insulated for winter weather, they froze limiting supply of gas to power plants. Power plants were not insulated for winter weather and they froze going off line. With no electricity flowing on the electric grid, municipal water plants and waste treatment plants shut down and froze. Even a nuclear power plant shut down due to freezing.

    Wind turbine power was not the cooperate because it was only expected to supply 10% and it was out performing all other Texas energy resources which were carbon fuel based!

    Read the real facts of what really happened:

    Explainer: Texas one-of-a-kind power system raises questions during price spike:

    The Texas grid got crushed because its operators didn’t see the need to prepare for cold weather:

    No, frozen wind turbines aren’t the main culprit for Texas’ power outages:

    • Justin Katz

      The numbers I’ve seen are that wind was 42% of the power and fell 93% while traditional sources of energy ramped up, just not enough to cover it. I don’t doubt Texas took a gamble on winterizing, but the green energy obsession made matters worse. I guess we can debate whether “worse” was “decisive” in this case.

      • Makaha Ken

        Justin read the Texas newspaper article I referenced.

        The maximum wind turbine output in Texas is about 22% during good non-winter weather so whoever is telling you it was 42% is dead wrong

        Texas state electric grid operators were expecting only 6GW to 7GW turbine output during the winter and gas, coal and nuclear power were expected to produce 60GW power..

      • Makaha Ken

        BTW Justin, Hawaii is the only state posting renewable energy percentage of 30% state-wide generation. However, some islands standalone are posting 40%, 50% and 60% renewable energy grid power. Being that Hawaii is isolated, attention to backup power is essential and power generation is spread across multiple systems so no single point of failure.

        Hawaii only has 114 wind turbines spread across 3 islands Wind power is intermittent power and the name plate power output must be reduced by 34.98% to get constant usable power which also has to be mixed with baseline power to stabilize it to dispatchable power:

        Of the 4 renewable energy systems currently in the world that produce commercial quantity of dispatchable baseline electric energy directly to the grid for immediate use, 3 are designed , built and operating connected to the grid in Hawaii.

    • Monique Chartier

      Wind generation collapsed while fossil generation shot up (“Be­tween 12am on 2/8 and 2/16, wind power plunged 93% while coal in­creased 47% and gas 450%”) in the week before the storm hit. Reliable generating sources are critical to an electrical grid where every kilowatt matters. Between this and California’s experience last summer, green energy has demonstrated it has no place on a grid.

      • Makaha Ken

        The article you referenced is locked and requires subscription.

        Read the Texas newspaper article that I referenced plus the other two.

        You are wrong Monique and 95% of newspaper articles in print, plus the US Department of Energy all say the same thing; Texas was unprepared after 7 winter power outages over the years never invested the funds and resources to correct the problem.

        Texas was not depending of the power output from its wind turbines knowing that they freeze up in winter because they were not installed with winter operation kits.

        Also for your information, in order to find the true constant usable power from a wind turbine, you must reduce the name plate power output by 34.98%:

      • Guest

        Monique here is a link to Texas 4WWL-TV news report how the fossil fuel power plants froze up because they are not winterized but the Texas PUC recommended due to last winter storm outage:

        Also a description of the Texas grid and a question/answer plus TV with Texas ERCOT about what went wrong:

    • Pjgj28a

      Might take a look at this to see what really happened.

      • Guest

        Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in 1989 after a prolonged Texas grid power outage in 1989 performed a detailed study and wrote a detailed recommendation to Texas to winterize fuel supplies and generation facilities for electric grid power their fuel resources. Recommendations were not instituted by State of and Texas power plants and natural gas suppliers companies.

        After another prolonged cold weather event in 2011 which caused extended power outages, Texas Public Utility Commission authored a report to Texas power utility companies and natural gas suppliers to winterize their supply resources but that was ignored except for one Texas city that did winterize all resources and did not have any problems this time.

        No waiver from President Joe Biden would have saved Texas from the catastrophe and deaths, loss of property it has endured because the Texas Government was warned in writing twice, energy supply systems and electric power companies in Texas has been warned twice in writing by Federal Government and Texas Public Utility Commission to winterize fuel and power generator resources!

        Trying to shift the blame on renewable energy wind farms which were all ready devalued to 10% power due to winter operation by Texas grid operators and President Joe Biden from 1989 and 2011 for Texas not following written recommendations is like trying to tell me Republican Conservative Texas Senator Ted Cruz did not book a vacation and fly to 80F degrees Mexico Cancun to escape freezing conditions in Texas (leaving the family poodle in the house alone in the freezing cold) while the constituents that elected him into office to represent them suffered and died in Texas!

        Play with all the games you want but Republican Conservatives blew it and have killed hundreds if not thousands innocent people just like COVID-19 U.S.A now is at 500,000 U.S. residents dead due to playing political word games.

  • bagida’wewinini

    Senator Cruz is saying that he is returning to Houston from his vacation in Cancun. For once the hot air he generates may be of some use for the frozen natural gas distribution pipes and the wind turbines.