D.J. Neeley | Civil Patriot
South Texas is experiencing a winter storm unlike any we’ve seen in decades. What makes this situation far worse than predicted is the state’s inability to keep up with the demand for power. Some cities are experiencing rolling blackouts. Others, like mine, have been down for the past couple days due to equipment failure.
We’re not prepared for this sort of thing in Texas because we rarely see it. Hurricanes? Sure. Winter storms? Rarely.
Clearly the state wasn’t ready for it, either.
Texas Governor Greg Abbot issued a statement on Tuesday related to the power crisis:
“The Electric Reliability Council of Texas has been anything but reliable over the past 48 hours. Far too many Texans are without power and heat for their homes as our state faces freezing temperatures and severe winter weather. This is unacceptable.”
The governor went on to state his concerns about lack of preparation from ERCOT before the storm hit the state.
“This is something I declared in advance, this is something our team had been talking to them in advance,” he said. “But all of that aside, they should be providing greater transparency, they are a public entity.”
As a result of power failures all over the state, people are sleeping in their cars, burning their belongings in the fireplace to stay warm and having to worry about things like, “How can I sleep without my CPAP machine or my oxygen?”
Meanwhile, politicians and power operators send us on a never-ending round of rolling blackouts and load shedding. I told my wife tonight I felt like we were playing musical chairs: light off, lights on, heat off, heat on, water off, water on. And just about the time we get our hopes up, everything fades to black and we start shivering all over again.
I don’t recall ever being so cold inside of a building before as we have been over the past couple days. I jokingly said it was like the frozen tundra, but I stopped joking about that after I heard how many people in the state have died as a result of these power outages—most from carbon monoxide poisoning. Thousands are dealing with busted pipes, soaked floors and walls, and even exploding water heaters. I wouldn’t have believed that last one myself if it hadn’t happened to a family member.
And it’s supposed to get worse before it gets better. We’re expecting freezing rain over the next 24 hours that should turn a snowy city into an ice-covered one, which will surely threaten the power situation even more.
As of this point at least ten people have died as a direct result of the storms, (most related to the power outages). Houston’s homeless community has been on my mind, as have the elderly and medically fragile. Many, like my own mom, depend on medical equipment powered by electricity. I’m thinking of all of them right now as we head into this next round of storms headed our way.
Here’s where this storm story turns Green.
Wind turbines frozen mid-rotation were responsible for at least part of the overall catastrophe—the New York Times reported that at least half of the state’s wind energy grid was out of service. Roughly 25 percent of Texas’ overall energy supply comes from wind turbines, while the rest is solar, natural gas, nuclear and coal-powered electricity.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas told the public it would be working throughout the day to de-ice the turbines, among other items on its to-do list. It didn’t take much time for Boebert (R-CO) to tweet that the outages demonstrate why green energy is a bad idea. (msn weather)
I’ve driven through West Texas and have seen those wind turbines in action. They’re an impressive sight—when they’re not frozen to a standstill, as many have been over the past couple days. From what I’ve been able to gather, about 13% of our power loss has come as a result of these frozen turbines. They require de-icing and (depending on who you believe) at least some of that process involves fossil fuels, which has led to an argument about how green our beautiful “wind power” really is.
Honestly, I don’t care if it’s green, pink, or yellow. . .as long as it works. And right now, it’s not working. I’ve spent 30 of the past 48 hours in a house so cold I used my breath to warm myself up. But if we can’t figure out how to power up the great state of Texas, if we can’t keep these wind turbines from freezing over, I shiver to think of what’s coming if the whole country goes green.
And yes, I said shiver.