The problem isn't renewable energy versus none-renewable energy. It's that none of the power production facilities in the state of Texas have been required to harden themselves and insulate themselves to withstand the cold.
February 18, 2021

So here's Rachel Maddow, showing headlines from 2011 when another tremendous cold snap killed at least 13 people in Texas.

And the big point is that state officials were warned ten years ago to weatherize the power grid.

"And just like now, ten years ago, Texas' power grid could not handle it. Their ability to generate power collapsed because of the cold, just as demand spiked for power to provide heat. And in 2011, just like now, the grid collapsed, and Texas had power blackouts rolling across the state," Maddow said.

"And after that happened in 2011, for all the danger and life-threatening conditions that created, the national power regulator, the FERC, did a 300-plus page report on what went wrong in the cold weather event that happened in Texas, and they told Texas in that report that the Texas power grid was absolutely vulnerable to that happening again whenever the state had unusually cold temperatures, because the Texas power infrastructure was not designed to operate in the cold.

"FERC told them ten years ago they needed to winterize and insulate the power generating structure or it would happen again when it got cold again. And that wasn't exactly a rocket science level recommendation. This has been a recurring thing. Even before it happened in 2011, happened 12 years before that, 1989. Cold snap in Texas, power grid collapse. They had blackouts. 2011, power grid collapse, they had blackouts.

"FERC is like, this isn't that difficult. You need to insulate stuff. We know it's not always cold, but when it is, you can't afford to have the power go out. People will die. You have to winterize your power generating and distribution infrastructure so everything doesn't freeze solid and fall over and break when it's cold, which is when people really need to have power.

Texas shrugged it off, Maddow said, because they have their own stand-alone Texas-only power grid. They designed it to never convey any power across any state lines, "so there isn't any interstate activity that could legally be regulated by the federal government, so the federal government cannot regulate anything about Texas power production and distribution."

"They don't like regulations," she said. "They don't like requirements about being resilient in cold weather, despite their previous experience of living through exactly this kind of thing. After the fiasco in 2011 and those recommendations from FERC, Texas announced some best practices for all its power producers. But that's just what they were, best practices. It didn't actually require any of them to do anything."

Maddow discussed the right wing political defense that went into play, blaming wind power for the disaster.

"There's nothing inherent about wind that doesn't work in the cold," she said.

"Denmark and freaking Greenland run on wind, not because it's always bikini weather there, but because they winterize their production facilities. So when it gets cold, the power doesn't stop. Texas' biggest problem in this power grid failure has actually been the loss of facilities that pump and are powered by natural gas. It's actually been their fossil fuel plants that have been a much bigger problem.

"But honestly, looking at it that way is kind of the wrong way around. The problem isn't renewable energy versus not renewable energy. It's that none of the power production facilities in the state of Texas have been required to harden themselves and insulate themselves to withstand the cold. Because small government Texas doesn't believe in requiring anything. and that means that it's up to Texas government."

And we see how well that worked out!

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