I understand that there are people who will always take advantage of any possible opportunity to disparage renewable energy and wind in particular. Coal and gas are manly. You get dirty digging and drilling for coal and gas while many renewables are, well, clean. I apologize for bringing gender into the conversation but sometimes the thumping strut and stomp of fossil fuel advocates is just that cartoonish.
Let’s for a second speak truth. Just for a second. Then, we can let the passions of coal and gas drive deception again and maybe even convince some politicians and journalist to whine about renewable power sources.
Dan Woodfin, senior director at ERCOT, the Texas grid operator, told The Texas Tribune: “It appears that a lot of the generation that has gone offline today has been primarily due to issues on the natural gas system.” Natural gas is delivered just in time to power plants. It wasn’t delivered because the unwinterized gas pipelines simply froze up.
ERCOT reported that 66% of the power plant outages or reductions came from gas and coal plants. That alone was enough for rolling blackouts. One of the nuclear plants also was offline. Wind power was only forecast to provide 7% of the overall winter power demand in Texas, hardly a large factor. The wind production loss was not for lack of wind but because of the icing up of turbine blades. North Dakota’s wind turbines are equipped for very cold weather. Texas turbines were not. Also, unlike North Dakota, ERCOT could not call upon power producers from other states to make import power because their power grid is too isolated and antique.
Rob Port is on to something. He suggests that the federal production tax credit (PTC) provided to wind and other renewable forms of power be stopped. I’m for ending the PTC. Let each source or form of energy pay their own way. Greenhouse gas emissions are the leading contributor to destabilized climate driving extreme weather events. The power sector pumps out 27% of the U.S. total greenhouse gas emissions. I say they should pay for 27% of the damage extreme weather events cause.
In fact, I believe that coal and gas could pay for 27% of the F-M Diversion. Oil companies providing oil for the transportation sector could pick up their share, which is 28%. Let’s all pay for our trash or the damages from our trash. Of course, if that level of simple responsibility came to pass, coal and gas as forms of fuel would expire. I can hear the fossils screaming now, we can’t pay for our trash!
Mr. Port, I think the fossil fuel industry would much rather see clean renewable forms of power receiving the PTC than have to pay the damage caused by their trashing the atmosphere.
Joe Richardson lives in Fargo.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.