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No Sun, No Wind, Big Problem: Benign Weather Could Cause Blackouts in States With Green Grids, Officials Warn

May 18, 2023

It’s a warm summer night in Texas, and as the sun goes down, the wind eases to a calm breeze. There’s nothing extreme about the weather, but the pleasant conditions could present a big problem for the state’s green power grid.

Texas is one of many states that have seen fossil fuel plants close in favor of green power generation alternatives, such as wind and solar. But those alternatives are less reliable than their gas and coal counterparts—wind turbines need strong gusts to generate power at full capacity, and solar panels don’t work at night. As a result, state and federal officials are warning residents in Texas and elsewhere that high summer temperatures, combined with low winds at night, could bring power blackouts.

“I’m afraid to say it, but I think the United States is heading towards a catastrophic situation,” Federal Energy Regulatory Commission member Mark Christie said during a May Senate hearing. “The problem is not the addition of wind and solar, it’s the subtraction of dispatchable resources like coal and gas.” North American Electric Reliability Corporation president Jim Robb echoed Christie’s sentiment during an April press conference, calling the newfound reliance on green power generation “highly concerning” given the increased demand associated with “electrification policies and electric transportation.”

President Joe Biden has thus far ignored those warnings as he pushes forward with plans to eradicate fossil fuels from U.S. power generation by 2035, a move the White House says is necessary to “tackle the climate crisis.” Should green energy power grids bring unreliable electricity and air conditioning, Biden’s green revolution would almost certainly spark widespread political backlash.

In addition to Texas, grid operators in the Midwest are sounding the alarm over potential summer and winter power outages, citing the “accelerated retirements” of fossil fuel plants. California, meanwhile, has already pushed residents to reduce their energy consumption to avoid blackouts—in September, the state urged electric car drivers to stop charging their vehicles due to power grid strain. A majority of California’s electricity comes from green sources.

For Daniel Turner, founder and executive director of energy advocacy group Power the Future, Biden’s planned transition to green power generation shows Americans are “in the era of insanity when it comes to our policies.”

“We rely on solar panels that at best only work half the time and try to convince everyone it’s normal,” Turner told the Washington Free Beacon. “The insanity of wind and solar generation, the insanity that these power sources are going to maintain the same quality of life and the same abundance of life—it’s laughable.”

The White House did not return a request for comment.