Texas Energy Reliability Requires Expanding Fuel Sources

March 10, 2021

We are now almost 4 weeks “post freeze” in Texas and the discussions, bankruptcy’s, and resignations continue.  I hate to pile on, but I am going to.  There has been some discussion around whether renewable energy contributed to the event in some way.  I have seen commentary both condemning renewable energy in Texas during the freeze event and praising it for performing in an unprecedented weather event.  I think there is plenty of blame to go around in terms of what generation source performed well and which ones did not.  This was a “pass/fail” exercise for Texas, and in my humble opinion, every generation type came close to failing.

ERCOT has been clear that all fuel types suffered during the extreme cold.  Wind, solar, gas, coal and nuclear all tripped up to contribute to many Texans suffering in the cold.  I will leave it to the policy makers to determine just how much blame is allocated to fuel types.  I was cold and it was dark.  I would have burned tires to keep warm.  This leads me to the real policy discussion in Austin, namely a state strategy that encourages a variety of forms of generation to ensure that a growing state like Texas does not see this happen again.  I buy the argument that we perhaps have been overzealous in promoting solar and wind resources.  However, we cannot go back and change that, but we can use the experience of the blackouts to assess what the fuel mix should look like to ensure reliability.  So, you guessed it, I am going to advocate that new natural gas plants be discussed along with (insert your fuel source here). Is “clean coal” an alternative?  Who knows?  Expansion of the nuclear footprint in Texas?  Beats me!

All I am asking for as a citizen of Texas who sat in the cold and dark for 4 days is for policymakers to have an honest discussion about the many alternatives, that are available to ensure the lights, heat, and AC stays on. We owe it to ourselves as a state to learn the lessons around this catastrophic event and to not repeat them. With Easter coming up, I hate to see all our eggs in one basket!