Let's avoid national blackouts

The Biden administration has mandated 80% renewable energy by 2030, 100% carbon-free electricity by 2035, and 50–60% of all vehicles produced electric by 2030.  California has mandated that new homes be all-electric, and I expect that the Biden administration will mandate the same.  There's been no study to determine if electrical demand will exceed the electrical supply, how long it will last, and the impact on the economy, and the loss of life.  Is the U.S. doomed to experience the same Texas-style blackouts (which caused $195 billion in property damage and between 250 to 700 deaths) nationally?

My fifty-year construction career has included constructing and modifying everything from oil refineries to diesel, gasoline, and natural gas fueling stations, from hydro and gas-turbine to photovoltaic solar electrical plants (including solar panel manufacturer facility), coal mines to uranium mines.  In addition, we are constructing an electrical grid test facility and have been a Department of Energy contractor for nearly thirty years.  That fifty years of experience combined with my engineering degree leads me to believe many regions of the United States will experience energy instability, such as what occurred in the 2021 Texas blackouts.

The Great 2021 Texas Blackouts: A Case Study of Electrical Grid Failure

The blame for the Texas blackouts includes the failure of wind, solar, and electrical gas generation, insufficient reserve electrical generation capacity, an electrical grid that was not interconnected to other grids, and electrical utilities being unprepared.

Republican governor Rick Perry promoted solar and wind electrical generation while discouraging coal electrical generation (through regulations and financial discouragement).  As a result, the 2021 winter storm reduced solar and wind generation, and the electrical gas generators were improperly winterized, resulting in a loss of electrical power.  The only remedy for the lack of electrical supply was blackouts.  Had coal or nuclear power been available, blackouts would have been avoided.

Texas utilities needed more reserve electrical generation capacity.  It was not just the winter storm of 2021 that caused the blackouts.  Texas utilities are now projecting brownouts this summer, when electrical demand will exceed electrical supply.  

Because the Texas electrical grid (as well as the West Coast and East Coast grid) is isolated from the other regions, the state could not obtain extra electrical power from the different areas.  As a result, loss of electrical power generation required the Texas utility to decrease the electrical supply, known as roving blackouts.  

Texas utilities prioritized renewably produced electric power and competitive prices and were assumed to be reliable.  As a result, government regulators and even a few ratepayers are willing to pay for reserve electrical power generation capacity.

How to avoid national Texas-style electrical blackouts

We immediately stop the destruction of fossil-fueled electrical plants by building new green electrical generation plants without knowing if doing so harms the environment.  We were told Obama's "Cash for Clunkers"  was good for the environment, but we later discovered that the program hurt the environment, as confirmed in an NPR article.  Organizations and government agencies say the same thing about destroying coal and gas fire electric power plants.  Let's see the proof first this time.

We immediately stop the destruction of 24-hour operational electrical plants before building the 24-hour green power plants.  Our experience in past city riots has shown that what can be destroyed overnight can take years to rebuild.  Electrical power plants are no exception.

We must follow through on the 2009 Tres Amigas Superstation, the connection of the West Coast, East Coast, and Texas electrical grids.  Tres Amigas would be built in eastern New Mexico, where the three electrical grids are less than thirty miles apart.  

Regulatory agencies must require electrical utilities to provide reliable electricity at the lowest rate possible and do so in an environmentally responsible manner.  In addition, ratepayers must reimburse electrical utilities for all their expenses plus an industry-standard profit.

Contact your elected officials in our national capital and your state capitals.  Demand reliable, affordable, and responsible energy that meets your and your family's need.

Image: Eric Fischer via Flickr, CC BY 2.0 (cropped).

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