More windmills: Climate activists push green energy after Texas frozen turbine debacle
By Valerie Richardson – The Washington Times
Frozen wind turbines became a symbol of last month’s Arctic blast that left millions of Texans without power, but as far as green energy proponents are concerned, the solution is not less wind but more.
As Texas struggles to recover from the devastating freeze and blackouts, Democrats and climate activists have sought to counter the windmill naysayers by doubling down on calls to power the U.S. electrical grid powered on renewable energy versus an increased reliance on fossil fuels.
“The infrastructure failures in Texas are quite literally what happens when you *don’t* pursue a Green New Deal,” tweeted Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, New York Democrat.
Lori Lodes, executive director of Climate Power, blamed the Texas blackouts on state “climate deniers” who “put the needs of their fossil fuel donors first, offering no solutions to combat climate change and refusing to modernize our failing infrastructure.”
“What happened in Texas is a preview of what the climate crisis will look like — coast to coast — if we fail to make transformational infrastructure investments now,” said Ms. Lodes. “President Biden knows we have to build back better and work together towards a clean energy future.”
Not buying it was climate change skeptic Marc Morano, founder of the ClimateDepot.com. He cited a Center of the American Experiment study that gave nuclear power the highest score for performance and reliability from Feb. 15-17, the height of the outages, with failing grades for wind, hydro and solar.
“The proponents of the Green New Deal are desperately trying to push the theme that the more green energy fails, the more green energy must be mandated,” Mr. Morano said. “But there is no scientific, economic, or energy reason to expand wind power even more in Texas.”
The back-and-forth over green energy coincides with complaints after the Texas power grid left more than 4 million households without power as temperatures plunged to below freezing. The Dallas-Fort Worth area hit a record low of -2 degrees Fahrenheit on Feb. 16.
There were failures across the grid managed by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). In addition to the windmills stopping, coal generators stumbled and natural gas wells faltered as pipes froze. A nuclear power plant partially shut down as the water supply froze, according to multiple reports.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican who has ordered an investigation into the blackouts, blamed in part the state’s increasing reliance on solar and wind. “It shows how the Green New Deal would be a deadly deal for the United States of America,” he said.
“Our wind and our solar, it got shut down, and they were collectively more than 10% of our power grid, and that thrust Texas into a situation where it was lacking power on a statewide basis,” which “shows that fossil fuel is necessary,” Mr. Abbott said on Fox News’ “Hannity.”
Wind power is the fastest-growing component of the Texas electricity grid, but natural gas is still No. 1, generating 51% of the state’s energy capacity in December 2020, followed by wind at 24.8% and coal at 13.4%. Nuclear trails at 4.9%, with solar at 3.8%, according to a February ERCOT report.
Biden climate czar Gina McCarthy argued that “wind did better than natural gas and coal in terms of their reliability” before she made a pitch for green energy.
Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said extreme weather events such as the Texas freeze are “part of our new normal as a country,” driven by rising atmospheric carbon dioxide, requiring “the infrastructure investments necessary to prevent these kind of catastrophic chain impacts from happening again.”
“Very sadly and unfortunately, cc is making these kinds of disasters worse, more frequent, more intensity,” she said in a Feb. 15 video. “And frankly, that is what the Green New Deal is all about.”
Her Green New Deal resolution, introduced in the previous Congress, calls for achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 by meeting 100% of electricity demand with “clean, renewable” energy sources, namely wind, solar, hydro and geothermal.
Mr. Biden has sought to embed climate change in all aspects of his administration. He said rising greenhouse gases are making hurricanes, storms, droughts and wildfires worse, a theme echoed by climate groups linking the Texas freeze to global warming.
“Texas has been devastated year after year by the climate crisis, with the state experiencing severe hurricanes, flooding, and winter weather,” said Ms. Lodes. “Even as the climate crisis makes extreme weather events more intense and more frequent, many Texas legislators continue denying the reality of climate change and ignoring science.”
Such assertions have been challenged by the free market Heartland Institute, whose senior fellow H. Sterling Burnett said in a Jan. 14 post that while costs of natural disasters have increased, “long-term data indicates there has been no increase in the number of severity of natural disasters in recent decades.”
“The data, studies, and even the UN IPCC have proven that extreme weather is on no trend or declining trends on climate time scales,” said Mr. Morano, whose book “Green Fraud” will be released March 23. “There is no scientific way they can blame the bad weather in Texas on ‘climate change,’ so they instead choose political and pseudoscientific ways to link cold and snow and ice to ‘climate change.’”
JunkScience founder Steve Milloy, a member of the Trump transition team, argued that if climate change was making extreme weather events worse, which he disputes, it would make the case for a greater reliance on more dependable energy sources such as coal and nuclear.
“They’re saying anything they can to distract from the failure of wind,” said Mr. Milloy. “It’s important to remind people that we don’t need power most of the time, we need power all of the time, and if we don’t have power, very bad things can happen, including death.”
An estimated 32 people died in Texas of weather-related causes, including an 11-year-old boy who was found unresponsive on Feb. 16 in his bed. His mother, Maria Pineda, has sued ERCOT for gross negligence.
The freeze also resulted in a spike in natural gas prices, prompting Brazos Electric Power Cooperative in Waco to file for bankruptcy Monday rather than pass on the costs to its customers.
“Let me emphasize that this action by Brazos Electric was necessary to protect its Member cooperatives and their more than 1.5 million retail members from unaffordable electric bills as we continue to provide electric service throughout the court-supervised process,” said general manager Clifton Karnei in a press release.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a lawsuit Monday against another local provider, Griddy Energy, in Harris County for charging its customers up to $5,000, saying his office had received more than 400 complaints.