Al Fonzi’s column, “A Dark Green Power Failure,” in the text and with the headline, propagated the bogus theory that the failure of renewable energy sources, specifically wind turbines, triggered the recent blackout of Texas during a severe cold snap.
This is wrong, very wrong.
In winter, windmills generate about 10 percent of Texas’ electricity. If, as alleged, half of the wind units ground to a halt, that would have subtracted 5 percent of Texas’ power. The almost total blackout of Texas was not caused by the loss of 5 percent of generating capability.
It is equally false that this weather problem was unforeseen. Ten years ago, before widespread green, a similar but not as severe cold front demonstrated the Texas grid’s vulnerability to freezing. Plants froze then as they did recently. Yet nothing was despite the warning. Green energy was not the cause of the recent failure.
The fault lies with politicians.
Radical deregulation of the system by elected ideologues prioritized cheap wholesale power prices, dis-incentivizing private power companies from investing in non-revenue producing winterization of equipment, be it wind turbines or gas-driven generators.
New Mexico and Oklahoma experienced identical cold this year but suffered no failures. No one froze to death in Albuquerque or Oklahoma City because the systems there were well-prepared.
Another factor was the refusal of Texas to link its grid to the national system, preventing the import of power from warmer climes. Only El Paso, tied to the New Mexico grid, experienced no blackouts.
Yes, windmills were not winterized, but neither were much larger fossil fuel plants, whose failures caused the blackout. Unless the regulatory system changes to require preparation for inevitable storms, Texans should get used to freezing in the dark.
Debate about the optimum mix of wind, solar, hydro, nuclear, and fossil fuel-generated electricity is ongoing. Spreading misinformation does not aid that process. Blaming windmills for political failure generates no heat.
Ed Cobleigh, Paso Robles