February 18, 2021

Unreliable Conservatism

By Glenn

Weather is what is happening around you at the moment.  I guess you noticed the weather is cold.  Record cold.  Get used to it.

Climate  refers to the large consistent patterns.  The earth’s climate is changing. That is a fact.  Since 1900, the earth temperature has risen over 2 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Even Exxon Mobile, a previous skeptic, has now admitted that “climate change risks warrant action and it’s going to take all of us — business, governments and consumers — to make meaningful progress.”  

For continental regions like North Texas, that means our summers will be hotter and our winters will be colder.  Not only have Texas conservatives refused to acknowledge this fact, they have also refused to protect our communities. 

Energy companies in Texas have been allowed to roam free on the range.  ERCOT, Electric Reliability Council of Texas, should be providing “reliable” energy.  It failed in the record cold.

Front Lawn

What is ERCOT?  Here is the description from its website.

“ERCOT is a membership-based 501(c)(4) nonprofit corporation, governed by a board of directors and subject to oversight by the Public Utility Commission of Texas and the Texas Legislature. Its members include consumers, cooperatives, generators, power marketers, retail electric providers, investor-owned electric utilities, transmission and distribution providers and municipally owned electric utilities.”

The ERCOT board is made up of industry leaders.  Texas Republicans have made it clear that they don’t believe in regulation or oversight. 

Contrary to much smirking, the failure started with poor planning.  It puts profits over people.  Republicans have looked away for years, and today we are paying the price.

Gas and coal plants failed and collapsed the power supply. Their machinery is frozen like the rest of us. This didn’t have to happen.

Dave Tuttle studies the industry at the Energy Institute at the University of Texas at Austin.   He recognizes a pattern in the outages. 

Tuttle knows that failure of gas and coal plants freezing was predictable.  It happens often.   The companies simply don’t want to spend the money on winterization.  ERCOT and Texas Republicans have accepted failure as part of the system.

What does that mean for you and me?  Expect more winters like this.  Climate change means hotter summers and colder winters.  We could do better, but that would require government planning and action.

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