Why Texas Has Gone Dark

Much of Texas is experiencing rolling blackouts, as utilities are unable to keep power flowing. Why are these blackouts happening? My colleague Isaac Orr explains at AmericanExperiment.org.:

More than 2.5 million people in Texas are currently experiencing rolling blackouts as temperatures remain in the single digits in many parts of the state. The Lone Star state is currently short of electricity because half of the Texas wind fleet (the largest in the nation) is iced over and incapable of generating electricity. Additionally, the natural gas infrastructure Texas has become so reliant upon has also frozen up.

Texas’s experience highlights the perils of becoming overly reliant upon wind, solar and natural gas because these energy sources are not as reliable as coal or nuclear power during extreme weather conditions.

But there is more to the story than that. Texas has what some regard as a free market in energy, but in fact it is distorted by the massive federal subsidies paid by the federal government. These subsidies often cause the price of electricity to go negative; that is, wind farms will actually pay utilities to take electricity off their hands. The resulting market dislocation devastates reliable energy sources:

Federal subsidies for wind pay wind-turbine owners $24 per megawatt-hour for electricity regardless of whether the electricity is needed or not. These subsidies allow wind operators to make money even if electricity prices turn negative. This means some power plant operators need to pay customers money if they continue to supply electricity to the grid when the prices are negative, while wind generators will make money courtesy of our tax dollars.

Isaac’s post includes a map that shows the prevalence of negative pricing across the U.S.

When coal plants close, renewable energy activists often cry, “Seeeeeee, it’s the market!” But the PTC’s market distortions are one of the reasons why these coal plants are no longer available to produce the electricity needed in Texas due to the frozen wind turbines and natural gas infrastructure.

More at the link. Meanwhile, on a lighter note, the Babylon Bee’s take on the Texas blackouts;

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