On Monday as temperatures dropped and snow piled up across Texas millions were left without power.
Some 60 percent of homes across Texas heat their homes from electricity. Many of them use heat pumps, which can fail in extremely cold conditions.
This extreme weather in Texas is a result of the growing climate crisis driven in a large part by the fossil fuel industry.
Research shows that warming temperatures in the Arctic are allowing cold air to move further and further south.
With the deadly conditions in Texas making headlines fossil fuel backers are taking a cue from Donald Trump and are spreading misinformation.
Some fossil fuel backers have suggested that the blackouts are a reason to burn even more fossil fuels.
Ninety percent of Texas’s grid is part of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, also known simply as ERCOT.
Texas relies inordinately on natural gas, which it assumed would be available around the clock, even in the worst of conditions throughout the winter months. Texas has learned the hard way that it wasn’t. Yet, right-ring pundits are blaming wind farms for the blackouts.
Both Breitbart and the Wall Street Journal published “grisly tales” of a green revolution: that an abundance of wind turbines in Texas were rendered useless by the drastically cold temperatures.
“The windmills failed to like the silly fashion accessories they are, and people in Texas died,” said Fox News’ Tucker Carlson.
“Frozen wind turbines contribute to rolling power blackouts across Texas,” ran CNN’s headline.
As of Monday afternoon, 26 of the 34 gigawatts in ERCOT’s grid had gone offline.
“ERCOT expected to get low-capacity factors from wind and solar during winter peak demand. What it didn’t expect is >20 GW of outages from thermal (mostly natural gas) power plants,” stated Rice University’s Daniel Cohan.
Despite these facts, conservatives thus far have focused on turbines underperforming in the cold due to ice on their blades. While they push this information, they fail to mention the majority of the grid is powered by fossil fuels.
What’s happened to ERCOT should be a wake-up call. Climate change will stress-energy grids in ways that they have never been tested before.
The real message from this week’s situation in Texas is not that green energy is unreliable, but instead that all the weight on the grid could have been lessened by moving toward greener resources.
Texas clearly needs a plan and it needs to already be working on it. ERCOT is not the answer for the Lone Star state anymore and leaders need to start thinking greener and outside the box.