A Free-Market Energy Blog

Wounded Texas from Wind and Solar (backdoor recognition at the Houston Chronicle)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- September 7, 2023

“If you had to take a life-saving medication that had to be refrigerated, would you want the energy source to be reliable fossil fuels or literally leave it to the wind and the sun?” – LTE, below

Don’t expect the Houston Chronicle editorial team, much less the conflicted, climate-religionist business editorialist Chris Tomlinson, to forthrightly explain how a once reliable grid in the Lone Start State became wounded. They will blame it on the weather (too cold, too hot). But the real story is wind and solar reliance at the expense of thermal generation, as well as central planning of the wholesale grid by regulators/politicians (ERCOT/PUCT).

I have long complained about how Houston’s newspaper of record went from biased to uber-biased on many things political, particularly climate change/forced energy transformation. No doubt some “environmental education” money has been involved in this hometown hate against oil and gas.

I personally have stopped trying to publish op-ed’s in my longtime hometown paper (I live in central Texas now) and spend time calling out Tomlinson, the worst of the worst. (In the old days, my op-ed’s were published.)

The Chronicle likes to publish op-ed’s from industry trade groups (the authors are transparently biased, right)? But the ideological opponents of climate activism (Big Brother energy policy) are marginalized. As Tomlinson himself describes the likes of Alex Epstein and Robert Bryce: “The industry’s most talented propagandists will offer advice on burnishing petroleum’s image as resentment toward fossil fuels grows.”

Almost all of my letters-to-the-editor do not get in. But as Texas’s grid problems are in the daily news (ERCOT conservation pleas have grown common), it is hard not to note the primacy of intermittency.

Tomlinson’s fallacious take is that old thermal generation is failing, and “new technology” is here. But the problem is public policy, specifically wind and solar forcing on a once reliable grid.

A letter in last week in the Houston Chronicle focused on just this. And one Peter Parlapiano deserves the last word.

Regarding “ERCOT issues conservation request amid high outages of natural gas, coal plants,” (Aug. 30): The Electricity Reliability Council of Texas has issued another conservation notice. How did we end up in this situation? In 1999, Gov. George W. Bush signed legislation to mandate the state’s electricity retailers to purchase a certain amount of their energy from qualifying renewable sources. In 2005, Gov. Rick Perry further increased the amount of energy derived from renewable energy. Renewable energy is currently responsible for 28% of ERCOT’s fuel source.

Observed ERCOT data from Thursday, Aug. 24 (when ERCOT issued a conservation notice) at 5:30 p.m. shows solar energy generated less than 1% of its total capacity and wind energy generated less than 17% of its total capacity. Compare this abysmal performance with natural gas, coal and nuclear energy, which generated between 70 and 90% of its total capacity. It should be pointed out that nuclear energy was the highest of the group (and also is carbon free). If the energy generated from renewables was instead generated from natural gas, coal and nuclear, I believe that it would greatly reduce the need for ERCOT conservation notices. Remember there are only so many hours of sunlight in a day, and the wind, unfortunately, doesn’t always blow.

If you had to take a life-saving medication that had to be refrigerated, would you want the energy source to be reliable fossil fuels or literally leave it to the wind and the sun? Reducing our dependence on renewable energy and adding additional capacity from nuclear, coal and natural gas sources will allow Texans to have reliable energy and not worry about literally being in the dark. – Peter Parlapiano, Houston

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