An Exchange with Michael Webber (UT- Austin) on the February 2021 Texas Blackouts

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- February 15, 2023 No Comments

“So here is the study that PUCT, FERC, Rice, UT, etc. do not want to do. It is very politically incorrect. Without wind and solar forcing, what would the wholesale margins have been, and how much thermal capacity would there have been? The study could do runs of wind/solar at 90% of the-then level … 75% …. 50% …. 25%.”

This exchange concerns a new University of Texas summary, “Two years after its historic deep freeze, Texas is increasingly vulnerable to cold snaps – and there are more solutions than just building power plants.” My interpretation—and policy recommendations—are exactly opposite of the UTA op-ed (see here), so I responded and was pleased to get some pushback from Professor Webber. 

On LinkedIn, Webber wrote: “You might find our latest article to be of interest.…

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Renewables and the Great Texas Blackout: Baker Institute Study Tip-toes to Key Causality

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- September 29, 2022 6 Comments

“… communications between different regulatory agencies as the event approached were inadequate. Transparency regarding the location of natural gas supply infrastructure was atrocious.”

“Currently Texas is #1 in the nation in terms of existing wind capacity. It is also #1 in terms of planned capacity additions for wind and solar, and #2 in the nation for planned battery capacity additions. However, there is little-to-no planned capacity addition for other forms of dispatchable generation. This could become an issue for reliability.” (Baker Institute, study, below)

There is not only government failure in the quest to address market failure. There is analytic failure in identifying market failure that government is empowered to correct. Restated, problems attributed to markets are often the result of prior government intervention on close inspection.

This is true with some classic examples in the energy field, from the origins of public utility regulation of electricity to oil overproduction under the ‘rule of capture’, stories for another day.…

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Electricity Markets: Contrived/Distorted vs. Real (debating the Texas Blackout)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- April 8, 2021 3 Comments

“‘Unintended consequences of government intervention?’ Are you f***in’ kidding me? What just happened is a direct consequence of insufficient government intervention!” (Robert Borlick, energy consultant)

“No, with due respect. When the system loaded up on renewables, who would have known that low-to-negative marginal-cost pricing would have ruined the economics of baseload generators and natural gas peakers, existing and prospective. I was an adamant critic of windpower in the old days (1997) and just did not foresee this.” (Bradley, retort)

Many planners and regulators involved involved in the Great Texas Electricity Blackout have resigned or been fired. But their brethren, the experts behind the fallen PUCT/ERCOT model, are emotionally defending central planning and renewable energies by blaming the natural gas industry. “The CEOs of those gas companies should be criminally charged,” exclaims Robert Borlick, below).…

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Texas Blackout: Costs, Blame Mount

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- April 5, 2021 No Comments

“[Texas] energy infrastructure, overseen by agencies whose top priorities seem to be keeping the energy markets happy, gets neglected. Such neglect, deadly as we have seen, is a crime — or it ought to be.” (Houston Chronicle editorial board, April 4, 2021)

The grand failure of Texas’s power grid under legislative/regulator/expert control is a case study in political economy.

The mainstream narrative combines an Act of God (weather) with private-side failure (non-weatherization). But electricity, while mostly under private ownership, is one of the most highly regulated industries in the U.S. It does not operate in an unhampered market.

Don’t blame God or Market Man–blame the system, the regulated system. Many posts at MasterResource have laid blame, brick-by-brick, on contrived versus real free markets and, more generally, on anti-fossil-fuel planning.…

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Civil Society and Natural Gas during the Great Texas Blackout

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- March 24, 2021 No Comments Continue Reading

Numbers and the Great Texas Blackout

By -- March 4, 2021 4 Comments Continue Reading

Texas’s Central Planning: Duplicating the Grid

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- March 16, 2023 2 Comments Continue Reading

A Texas Politician in Electricity (missing a chaired meeting with the PUCT)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- February 16, 2023 2 Comments Continue Reading

New England Power Market: Warnings Aplenty (blackouts, energy poverty too)

By -- September 28, 2022 2 Comments Continue Reading

Texas Grid Reliability: Gone With the Wind (and solar)

By -- September 14, 2022 3 Comments Continue Reading