Is Green Energy to Blame for Texas’s Historic Blackout?


Isabella Luse

The United States has been hit hard these past few weeks with cold-wrenching winter storms. But arguably, the worst hit was the state of Texas. Temperatures hit arctic points, many being stranded without heat. At one point, over 4.1 million people had lost power. Now as temperatures start to warm up, pipes are expanding, breaking, with little to no running water being available. 

Now, fingers are being pointed. Heads being turned. How did this happen? Why did this happen? Who is to blame? 2 groups are at each other’s throats: Fossil Fuels and Renewable Energy. One thing is for certain though: no one was ready for this fight. 


Was it Renewable Energy?

Renewable Energy is really what started the massacre of the blame game in Texas. A statement from the governor of Texas, Governor Greg Abbott (R) on February 16th, in which he stated, “This shows how the New Green Deal would

This image depicts what a city facing the same circumstances of Texas would look like during a blackout.

be a deadly deal for the United States of America.” He further went on, discussing how frozen wind turbines and the loss of solar power caused the horrible Texas power crisis. “Our wind and solar got shut down…lacking power on a statewide basis.” If you look at the data from ECROT, or the Electricity Reliability Council of Texas, 46,000 Megawatts were offline, or not being used, during the peak of the outage. Out of that, 16,000 were a part of the wind and solar operations, evening out to about 35% of all power being lost due to renewable energy sources.


Was it Fossil Fuels?

When people supporting Renewable Energy were faced by many republicans, including the governor himself, they took the blame to be on Fossil Fuels. Bill Gates, a known supporter, and funder of progressive innovations in renewable energy, was dismayed by the remarks made, fossil fuels instead. In a statement, he said, “Actually, the main capacity that’s gone out in Texas is not the wind. It’s actually some of the natural gas plants that were also not ready for these super cold temperatures.” Another statement from Joshua Rhodes, a research associate at the University of Texas, made a statement about natural gas’s support in this crisis. “So we built a grid to rely on those [natural gas & other thermal energies] other resources, but they didn’t show up either.” Again, if you look at the data from ECROT, about 28,000 Megawatts of the 46,000 offline were of thermal energy, or energy containing coal, natural gas, and nuclear energy. This evens out to about 61% of all power being lost due to thermal energy sources. 

Both sides have proven points about their own argument, but one person could state that both sides had their problems too, and they did. Texas is known for its warm climate, and this was a historic time in the weather community. These temperatures were unprecedented for the area. As well, since Texas runs on its own power grid, the ECROT runs or makes most laws according to different electricity standards.  And, there is no law requiring companies to winterize, or protect equipment from winter climates, in Texas. This stopped many un-winterized turbines from spinning, or natural gas pipes from flowing.

In the end, both Renewable Energy and Natural Gas had good points against each other. But in the end, was it just un-winterized equipment to blame?