Since the weekend, weather news has been primarily focused on Texas, due to power outages caused by the unusual February ice, snow and cold that has gripped large parts of the United States.
Like everything else in recent years, this tragic event has been politicized, and even used to generate fake news about renewable energy. You will recognize the names of several Republicans from Texas, including the governor, who even used the event to take a swipe at ‘The Green New Deal.’
“As the crisis of rolling blackouts in Texas unfolds this week, some of the state’s loudest Republican politicians are falsely dragging “frozen wind turbines” as the cause. But behind every wind energy smear by a Texas politician is a dizzying amount of money contributed by the fossil fuel industry. All told, these three Texas Republicans alone snagged more than $1.1 million from the industry in the 2020 election cycle.”Molly Taft – GIZMODO – February 17, 2021
Bottom line: Most of the energy failures in Texas are related to fossil fuels.
Oil & gas, and coal make-up 58% of the state’s energy portfolio. And the reason the wind turbines are freezing-up, is that they don’t have cold weather gear –like all the turbines in colder climates have– to keep them operating during icy weather.
“Major wind turbine manufacturers, such as General Electric or Denmark’s Vestas, regularly equip their turbines with such cold weather gear.”Scott Carpenter – FORBES – February 16, 2021
These cost savings and a lack of preparation have proven fatal to some individuals, while the state’s independent energy grid ERCOT, separate from other states, has added to this Texas crisis.
Rolling blackouts turned into ongoing blackouts for many, who are experiencing burst water pipes in frigid homes. Water damage. The good news is that temperatures will rise this weekend into next week, ending the winter siege, while oil and gas refineries could still be adversely affected for several weeks.
In the larger picture, many suspect this deep freeze has been enhanced by climate change and the warming artic, which is affecting the jet stream. We’ve even had February tornadoes in North Carolina!
While a plumber is focused on all the burst water pipes, this retired landscaper is thinking about all the landscape plants likely killed, or severely damaged, by the prolonged cold temperatures in the South.