If the state that produces more electricity than any other state in the United States suffers blackouts, it is never an everyday thing. As freezing temperatures hit Texas, the state suffered a major electricity breakdown, as electricity demand rose to an unprecedented level.
As Texans tried to keep their places warm, the strain on the electricity facilities was unbearable, as many facilities were already working below their capacity due to the freezing temperatures.
This resulted in the electricity cut off in Texas, and Texans are left with nothing but frigid temperatures and nothing to warm their houses.
Republicans politicians moved forward to cash on the disaster and started blaming renewable energy and the Green New Deal for the calamity, a claim which is false to its core.
Republicans are blaming wind energy for the disaster, but it is the lack of investment in wind turbines that is causing this event right now.
By setting up their own electrical grid, the Texas electricity setup is not subject to any federal regulations, and they are not bound to obey them either.
This is one of the primary problems why the Texas wind turbines could not operate in these temperatures. This separation from the federal regulation is the principal reason why Texas lacks winter geometry in its wind turbines for the deicing process.
Federal regulations demand proper machinery for the wind turbines, which is helping other states to operate their wind turbines in winter.
But as these federal regulations are not applicable in Texas, they are currently escaping the winterization requirement of the turbines.
If the business goes as usual, these types of disasters are inevitable in times to come when climate change is pushing temperatures to extremes in every weather.
Some of them even started sponsoring conspiracy theories, as Republican Congresswoman Lauren Boebert commented on a 2014 video of Sweden. thinking it is Texas’s current situation.
We have gathered a list of FAQs about the Texas electricity shutdown and how Republicans are playing politics with it. Let’s have a look.
Can wind turbines operate in cold weather?
Yes, wind turbines can operate in cold weather, and many countries have been doing it in recent times. For example, Canada installs “cold weather packages” in wind turbines in winters to carry out the de-icing process as the snowfall tries to block the turbines.
This helps them in operating wind turbines at temperatures as low as -30 degrees Celcius. This kit provides heat to the most important part of the geometry, which keeps it functional. Similarly, Sweden and Denmark also run wind turbines in winter, which manifests that wind energy is not an actual issue to worry about.
Likewise, Iowa is the national leader in wind energy, as it produces almost 42% of the state’s electricity by the wind in 2019. Iowa is also one of those states which face extreme temperatures in winters.
So, the problem in Texas is not the wind turbine but the lack of availability of the modern de-icing equipment that is necessary for the frigid temperatures.
In fact, in the times when the equipment of natural gas plants freeze, wind energy can be a great alternative, seeing they can operate in icy weather.
Why is Texas Electricity cut off in these testing temperatures?
The electricity system of Texas is made in a way to tackle extreme hot but not extreme cold weather. While it can tackle the demand for electricity when, in summer, Texans turn on their ACs, it failed to generate extra electricity in the extreme cold when Texans tried to turn on their heaters.
It is also pertinent to note here that some oil refineries also stopped working in Texas on Monday, including Exxon and Saudia Arabia’s Aramco. All the gas facilities that are shut down in the freezing temperatures are due to unfavorable operating conditions. As gas turbines need a specific pressure to operate, they are unable to achieve those pressures in these temperatures, resulting in the shutdown.
When can we expect electricity back in Texas?
No one knows the exact answer to this, not even the officials. The problem is that the situation can go even worse in case of the complete shutdown of the electricity grid, said Bill Magness, the president of the Electricity Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which manages the electricity needs of almost 90% of residents of the state.
He further said that they are trying to get back to routine, but at the same time, they are struggling to keep the running facilities functional as they could “could last for an indeterminate amount of time.”
I hear that the Texas electricity breakdown is due to their too much reliance on renewable energy, especially wind turbines. Is it correct?
No, this is not correct, according to the officials of the state. It is correct that Texas depends on windmills a lot, but the real reason is still non-renewable energy. According to ERCOT, almost 45,000 MW of electricity is offline now, 30,000 of which consist of gas, nuclear, and coal power plants. Nearly 16,000 of the offline electricity is renewable.
How are Republican politicians playing politics in the Texas electricity shutdown?
The moment storms hit Texas and a blackout happened, Republicans started blaming the Green New Deal for the problem. They left no stone unturned to blame renewable energy.
The Texas Governor found time to blame the Green New Deal instead of focusing on the actual problem. He said,
“This shows how the Green New Deal would be a deadly deal for the United States of America. Texas is blessed with multiple sources of energy such as natural gas and nuclear, as well as solar and wind. Our wind and our solar got shut down, and they were collectively more than 10 percent of our power grid. And that thrust Texas into this situation.”
Republicans Congresswoman Lauren Boebert from Colorado immediately took to Twitter and said,
“You know how you unfreeze frozen windmills? By sending up a helicopter that shoots out chemicals onto the blades. You need fuel for the helicopter. Keep that in mind when thinking how ‘green’ windmills are.”
(Lauren Boebert, Congresswoman)
As we fact-check the claims of the Republican congresswoman, she was referring to a 2014 video of Sweden in which a helicopter could be seen doing something with the windmills.
Showing the video of Sweden and saying it’s from the US shows that Republicans are just playing politics in the matter, with no substantive content available to back up their claims.
Are Republican politicians responsible for these types of blackouts?
The freezing temperatures are the classic example of imminent climate change. Climate change is not only about global warming. In fact, freezing temperatures are also one of the severe implications of climate change.
The denial of Trump about climate change during his presidency and the withdrawal from the Paris climate accord has put the United States in these times. In order to avoid further situations like this, everyone must take climate change as an imminent problem to deal with.
Why does Texas have its own electricity system? Why is it not integrated with the rest of the country?
Texas has independent electric generation and regulation laws, so they are not related to the feds in any way. The roots of the modern system can be traced to the last century. After 1882, when Thomas Edison built the country’s first power plant, a series of power plants were installed across Texas, making electricity availability possible in the state.
As the years move on, these utilities started linking themselves to each other, and the process paced up during the First World War.
As a result, all of these facilities continued combining and made the Texas Interconnectedness System during the Second World War. This gave them the capability to link themselves with the Texas rivers and dams.
The primary priority of the Texas Interconnectedness system was to evade the federal regulations, which allowed them to monopolize the electricity generation and distribution system of the state. Despite Franklin Roosevelt’s Federal Power Act of 1935, which authorized the federal power commission to regulate interstate sales, they cannot restrict Texas now due to the efforts of the previous century. In 1970, ERCOT was founded, primarily responsible for the electricity generation and distribution of Texas to date.
Suppose Texas wants to get itself to integrate with the rest of the country and escape these situations further in times to come. In that case, it is high time to think that they start acclimatizing them with the federal regulations so that they can be helped in these types of trying times.
Seeing the politics of the disaster, it seems that Republicans have started championing fake news and misleading propaganda to tarnish the reputation of their political rivals.
Right now, most people believe that the Texas electricity shutdown is due to renewable energy in general and windmills in particular. All of this is just because of the propaganda of Republicans against Democrats.
This is not the first time when they are trying to malign the reputation of Democrats. Be it building the notions of Democrats promoting socialism, defunding police, or others, they have tried every avenue to malign the Democrats.
It is not a shocking revelation that Democrats have not started building a counter-narrative against Republicans in this matter, too, as they never try to cater to the Republicans’ narrative.
If Democrats let the business go on, as usual, it won’t be far enough when people would start a negative image of the Green New Deal and climate change, which will be a big loss against the cause of climate change.
Eli is a Political Data Scientist with over thirty years of experience in Data Engineering, Analytics, and Digital Marketing. Eli uses his expertise to give the latest information and distinctive analysis on US Political News, US Foreign Affairs, Human Rights, and Racial Justice equipping readers with the inequivalent knowledge.