Texas conservatives isolated the state from the national power grid in the 1930s, after President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Federal Power Act, which charged the Federal Power Commission with regulating interstate electricity sales.
In the years since they have deregulated and privatized the power grid.
The failure we are experiencing this week is now being blamed by those same conservatives on renewable energy as they disingenuously campaign against the Green New Deal while people are freezing and life support medical equipment sits powerless.
The reality is that wind energy supplies less than 10% of the Texas power grid and the majority of the equipment failure has been fossil fuel powered equipment, mostly natural gas.
Texas is one of the largest producers and consumers of fossil fuels in the nation and world and the privatized power companies have aggressively resisted renewable energy.
Meanwhile, those homes and businesses with solar panel power support have fared the best throughout these outages.
We had similar failures (although not of this magnitude) in 1989 and 2011. Investigations of both determined the cause to be that power companies refused to spend the money on proper maintenance and winterization of the equipment. The same has already been reported for this year’s failure.
Add to this that the state runs the full power grid to supply energy demand in the summer due to air conditioning usage, and then takes large segments offline for the winter to conserve energy (because fossil fuels aren’t a renewable resource). Despite a week’s worth of warning of the impending arctic weather conditions, they never brought the dormant equipment back online.
They now claim that the energy demand exceeded production capability of the artificially limited production by the improperly maintained equipment. And as people are freezing and dying and absorbing the cost of destroyed perishables (if they can find an open business to replace them) the power companies are already talking about raising the rates to further profiteer off the disaster their own malevolent incompetence created.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, ERCOT, is a nonprofit that operates the state’s electrical grid and manages the flow of electric power to more than 26 million customers across the state — about 90% of the state’s electric load, according to its website. Only the El Paso region is on the national grid, and they are the only region in Texas that swiftly recovered from the weather related issues.
Despite claims that the reasoning is Texas’ long standing policy of feigned federal independence and isolationism, one third of the supposedly non-profit organization that controls the power grid is either out of state or international, and the majority of the remainder are heavily invested in the fossil fuel industry and profiteer personally off the organizational decisions.
I hope that those Texans who survive this state wide disaster of mismanagement, corruption, and malevolent unregulated capitalism, remember it, and the lies that Governor Abbott and his Lt. Governor and AG are telling about it as it is occurring when their reelection campaigns are running.
It would be laughable if it weren’t so tragic and pathetic that the state’s Republican leadership is loudly demanding investigation of the problems their own policies have created.
This is your call to action, as soon as you have thawed out enough to act.