Facts were incomplete
in Texas power letter
Melvin Richardson's Letter to the Editor on Saturday concerning the Texas electricity shortage is an incomplete story. The letter said that the shortage happened because of the the state made a quick move away from fossil fuels, generating 20% of its electricity from wind power which froze "and simply failed." The "serious reliability issue" he calls out actually is caused by the state's providers not making the effort to winterize the turbines. States such as Alaska, Pennsylvania, etc. do that and have not experienced such massive troubles. This past week, even a nuclear power plant near the Gulf of Mexico shut down.
A recent article in The Wall Street Journal points to examples of unpreparedness: "Such mechanical problems might have been avoided if operators had chosen to equip their plants like those that operate in traditional cold-weather states." The article points to wind and solar power being among the cheapest sources of electricity. Preparing wind and solar equipment and gas infrastructure for cold weather no doubt would result in higher energy prices. But that may be offset by the lower costs of more renewable sources, properly prepared and installed, in the mix.
Finally, the article points to the fact that Texas legislators have turned the Texas power grid into a virtual "electrical island" to avoid federal oversight. That is by design, losing the benefits of being part of a grid system which could provide important backup in times of emergency. Winterizing equipment to prepare for such disasters or not, keeping rates lower despite sending the state into a tailspin with each successive storm. It is up to those citizens to decide. My guess is that the Texas legislature will get an earful this year.