In his Voices letter, Mr. David Landry correctly points out that about a quarter of Texas' electricity is generated by wind and solar power. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration website, the percentage of "non-hydroelectric renewable" electric generation in Texas was 25.9% of the total in November 2020 (8,913 out of 34,411 in thousands of megawatts/h, compared to 15,425 for natural gas). However, Mr. Landry's letter seems to imply that the loss of that percentage was responsible for the suffering of so many Texans, including several of my relatives. The facts belie that belief.
According to the figures of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the average daily wind power generation was between 4,415 and 8,087 megawatts during the polar vortex storm, compared to their predicted estimate of 7,070 megawatts (NBC News, Feb. 21). The same NBC website quotes about a 30,000-megawatt shortfall in combined natural gas, coal, and nuclear power.
I understand that it is more satisfying for conservatives to blame outside actors such as Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for Texans' suffering. The real responsibility for the problem, as explained in Saturday's opinion columns of Paul Krugman and Ed Hirs, lies with Texas government, such as Gov. Greg Abbott and his administration's cozy relationship with the fossil fuel industry.
Pain, horror in Texas
During the recent severe winter weather, Texas by far took the biggest hit. Widespread power outages triggered massive problems. And in true Pavlovian predictability, many right-wingers seized the opportunity to attack the wind turbines that populate the Texas landscape.
Yes, many of the turbines did freeze up in the frigid temps. But can you leave your car outside in bitter cold weather without antifreeze and expect no consequences? Of course not.
Fact: Wind farms in Wisconsin and Iowa have been providing pollution-free electricity continuously during harsh winter weather. How can that be? By spending the money to insulate the gear boxes and equipping the blades with a coating that can be automatically heated to prevent ice buildup.
But in stand-alone, deregulated Texas, winterizing in a highly competitive energy market was shunned in order to reduce costs and maintain viability. Combine this cutthroat, free-for-all atmosphere with a governor and numerous state legislators who deny climate change, and you have a Texas-sized recipe for disaster.
The combination of proud independence, greed, and climate-change denial obstructed preventative measures that could have taken place. Woefully inadequate winterizing at the gas, coal, and nuclear facilities and wind farms in Texas was a monumental blunder with deadly consequences. Ample signs were there for all to see.
The vast majority of the power outages were avoidable. It is tragic that many people died, millions of others experienced prolonged misery, and thousands of homes and businesses are damaged.
For anyone out there whose dislike of alternative energy sources stems from your hatred of AOC or the hypothetical Green New Deal, by any means possible try suppressing your vitriol, and look at the Texas catastrophe as a wake-up call. The one conclusion we can all take from the pain and horror in Texas is this: Denial of climate change will not make it go away.
It can, will get worse
If sane Americans think things are bad now, we haven't seen anything. If and when Trump gets subpoenaed by the powers in New York and if he is convicted of anything that warrants him going to prison, what happened Jan. 6 will look pretty tame. The ringleaders who were leading that riot will be emboldened to overthrow the government. Like one of them said, we are at war; the only thing different this time is there will be shooting!
Hot Springs Village
Can species survive?
A rare new species found only in a few other states has recently been observed right here in the Natural State. It emerged from its primordial ooze and has been identified as a vertebrate due to its unique feature called a "backbone." This species has been labeled "vertebrae Hendren" and can be easily distinguished from similar non-vertebral species, mostly jellyfish, who are missing this important evolutionary design.
Sightings of this new Arkansas species attempting to expand its territory into unknown areas by "crossing the aisle" have been reported. Whether or not this rare vertebrate can survive in Arkansas remains to be seen. Perhaps it should be placed on the Endangered Species List.
Hot Springs Village
Earn what you want
Re Louis Burnett's "Need dose of reality": I agree with you 100%! We must have grown up in the same era.
Those who want to go to college should pay for it themselves, and not expect the government to bail them out of student debt. Education costs today are astronomical, and I totally believe something needs be done about lowering costs so it's affordable. The military offers so many great benefits: financial help with college courses, on-the-job training for lifetime skills, medical benefits, and so much more. It's worth a few years to serve your country and get so many benefits in return. Thanks to the GI Bill, I never had a student debt.
Many of today's young folks want everything handed to them. Way back when, we had to earn what we wanted, or do without. And that's when you learn to appreciate everything you have. You don't have rush to get a degree; work and take one class at a time until you can afford to do more.