A Free-Market Energy Blog

Chris Tomlinson: Muckraking on Texas Grid Unreliability

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- March 28, 2023

“Fossil fuel-supporting Chicken Littles have done their best to spread fear of renewable energy, warning that relying on wind, solar and storage would lead to blackouts and economic devastation.”  (Tomlinson, pre-Storm Uri)

“The Republicans’ goal [with new legislation] is to keep coal plants open and burn more natural gas … [and] wreck the climate….” (Tomlinson, today) 

Chris Tomlinson rides again–bashing gas/coal-based grid reliability in favor of more wind, more solar, enormous battery reliance, and government demand-side management to ration demand to (wounded)  supply.

The latest is his editorial in the Houston Chronicle last week, “Lawmakers to Send Electric Bill Much  Higher” (March 22, 2023). Rather than admitting that the unreliables have wounded (and will further wound) the reliables because of government intervention and planning (see here, here, and here), he  fusses at fossil fuels and muckrakes (hypocritically [1]) against the rich.

“[Dan] Patrick and [Charles] Schwertner want to funnel money away from clean energy and toward fossil  fuels just as we need to phase them out to stop global warming,” Tomlinson complains. “Their proposed  laws ignore new technologies that are revolutionizing the electric industry by boosting efficiency and  controlling demand.” 

‘Controlling demand‘?  What Tomlinson touts is the eco-left’s latest: demand-side engineering to control  energy usage in your home via ‘smart’ meters. How much would that cost, Mr. Tomlinson? And will the  Big Brothers in Austin–ERCOT, PUCT, and politicians–really centrally plan supply and demand to the  satisfaction of ratepayers who want affordable, dependable electricity? Are you okay, too, with this loss of  energy freedom from Big Brotherism?

Tomlinson states: “Our widely-admired free market system would be replaced with the big-government  structure we abandoned in 1999.” Really? The Enron-driven Texas Electric Restructuring Act of 1999 was  not deregulation. Today’s electricity market is not “free market” but just the opposite. As I have explained:

The Federal Power Act of 1935, Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935, Public Utility Regulatory  Policies Act of 1978, Energy Policy Act of 1992, Texas Public Utility Regulatory Act of 1975, Texas Public  Utility Regulatory Act of 1995, Texas Electric Restructuring Act of 1999….

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (né Federal Power Commission), Security and Exchange  Commission, Public Utility Commission of Texas, Electric Reliability Council of Texas, North American Electric Reliability Corporation, National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners…. The above whirlwind of laws and agencies serves as the foreword and afterword of the Great Texas Electrical Blackout of February 2021.

Tomlinson is correct when he states: “Texas’s GOP leadership is trying to destroy the system it built….” But some of us are not keen about the Ken Lay/Enron “deregulation” bill of 1999 and the subsequent support for wind and solar by George W. Bush, Rick Perry, and the rest.

Bottom line: Never has an electricity grid been so regulated and distorted by government intervention, and never has an electricity debacle occurred as bad as Texas’s. Rather than double-up on grid weakening and duplication, the Texas legislature should enact free market reforms to stop adding to and retire existing intermittent, parasitic energies and to naturally incite thermal generation to enter and upgrade. The “good old days” were a lot better than what we have today, the the new era of true market reliance can include eliminating franchise protection from utilities and repealing those state and federal laws listed above.


[1] Chris Tomlinson is a rich man, in wedlock to a wind and solar developer who claims $2 billion in originations. Tomlinson’s wife has stated on LinkedIn: “Clean energy executive with track record of closing deals with $2B in transaction value.” (No breakdown on wind, solar, “clean” other, and other.)

An origination fee on two billion dollars would be $10 million for every one-half-of-one-percent. And typically this is in addition to salary and expenses. I invite the Houston Chronicle‘s conflict-of-interest chief to tell readers what the lucre is–and whether/why their business editorialist should be trusted over a more neutral, nonconflicted replacement. And readers would like to know if the paper itself (or its parent) has received any grants from anti-fossil-fuel environmental groups or individuals to pay the likes of Chris Tomlinson.


  1. John W. Garrett  

    “…control demand…” WTF?

    Ye gods. The last time I saw language like that, it was part of the Soviet Union’s Gosplan.

    Tomlinson is clearly an idiot.


  2. David Peters  

    Free electric markets need to return to Texas in order to achieve reliable and low-cost electricity. Federal and state subsidies to wind power have destroyed the incentive to invest in reliable energy. Wind proponents keep saying wind is cost competitive. If that is true, they don’t need subsidies.

    Tomlinson needs to answer to the conflict issue. He has no credibility.

    Maybe the Chronicle was paid to write alarmist stories like Tomlinson’s. The Associated Press was paid $8m to write climate change stories. See NY Post 2/21/22.


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