Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) blasted Texas on Tuesday for massive power outages as the state has been hit with unusually harsh winter weather, claiming it is the result of “the green energy scam” and frozen windmills.
Along with saying “it takes a special kind of stupidity to run out of energy in Texas,” Boebert tweeted a video of Fox News host Tucker Carlson spreading misinformation about the situation.
“The windmills froze so the power grid failed,” Carlson said in the video.
But as Bloomberg News reported on Monday, windmills are not the primary reason Texas is having issues.
While ice has forced some turbines to shut down just as a brutal cold wave drives record electricity demand, that’s been the least significant factor in the blackouts, according to Dan Woodfin, a senior director for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which operates the state’s power grid.
The main factors: Frozen instruments at natural gas, coal and even nuclear facilities, as well as limited supplies of natural gas, he said. “Natural gas pressure” in particular is one reason power is coming back slower than expected Tuesday, added Woodfin.
“We’ve had some issues with pretty much every kind of generating capacity in the course of this multi-day event,” he said.
Bloomberg noted that “The blackouts, which have spread from Texas across the Great Plains, have reignited the debate about the reliability of intermittent wind and solar power as the U.S. seeks to accelerate the shift to carbon-free renewable energy.”
Wind shutdowns accounted for 3.6 to 4.5 gigawatts — or less than 13% — of the 30 to 35 gigawatts of total outages, according to Woodfin. That’s in part because wind only comprises 25% of the state’s energy mix this time of year.
While wind can sometimes produce as much as 60% of total electricity in Texas, the resource tends to ebb in the winter, so the grid operator typically assumes that the turbines will generate only about 19% to 43% of their maximum output.
“The performance of wind and solar is way down the list among the smaller factors in the disaster that we’re facing,” Daniel Cohan, associate professor of environmental engineering at Rice University, said in an interview. Blaming renewables for the blackouts “is really a red herring.”
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