Open Letter To

Now that things have returned to normal (ice melted, water restored, power turned back on), we need to look very hard at ourselves and make sure that none of the past month’s nonsense ever happens again in Texas.  In case the Big Brains haven’t figured it out yet, let’s look at the problems and their solutions.  First, the overriding principle:

Texas needs to become completely self-sufficient in power generation.  That includes during times of inclement weather such as we’ve just had.

1.)  Wind power fails in a crisis.  That’s not an assertion, that’s a truism, and it’s not just true in Texas:  it’s true everywhere in the world.  So if we’re going to continue to generate power from wind, that power needs to be sold outside the state to, say, California [irony alert] because they apparently love the stuff.  But not a single part of the Texas energy supply should come from wind power, ever again.

This means that to replace wind power as part of our energy supply system, we have to build more gas-powered and nuclear power stations.  And we need to do it quickly, in the next couple of years.  But before anyone starts blathering on about environmental regulations as excuses for not getting it done, here’s the mandate:  get it done or we’ll elect people who can.

2.)  Texas has its own electricity distribution grid, and it sucks — once again, a statement of fact.  Texans don’t want to hear about pipelines freezing or cables breaking because of extreme cold, ever again.  When it gets cold — and no matter how cold it gets — Texas needs to continue functioning.  Our energy transmission grid needs to be made bullet-proof.

3.)  All of this is going to cost money.  Don’t care.  We also know that a lot of people have a lot of money and political capital invested in the “renewable” power generation business, and we don’t care about them either.  Find the money by cutting pork-barrel expenditure items from the Texas budget — if you need to know where they are, ask Dan Crenshaw for a list, because I bet he has one — or else, lean on the utility companies to get their own house in order, because apparently they’ve been unable to do it for themselves.  And if they do, that can’t come at the expense of higher utility bills.  We pay enough for electricity already, and given the energy resources Texas has at its disposal, we should be paying even less.  (And while you’re there, eliminate this nonsense.)

4.)  Pass legislation that enables all the above.  Generally speaking, we don’t like our state legislature to pass that many laws (see:  biannual legislature sessions, two-year budgets), but this is one time we’ll make an exception.  If you can get everything done under existing legislation, fine.  If not, pass the laws to enable them.

Texans are proud bunch, and when we see statistics like “3 million people have no electricity in the United States;  2.3 million of them live in Texas”, that pisses us off, big time.  Not having heat, water or power in our homes when it’s 15°F outside is not acceptable.  Just to hammer the nail in up to the head:  we’re talking millions of pissed-off voters.

I know that in any financial system there’s a calculus that says you can’t budget for extremes.  It’s the reason why Brownsville, for example, has no supplies of road salt and no trucks to scatter it on icy roads.  I’m not talking about that.  What I’m stating is that electricity is not a luxury, it’s a necessity — and it’s exponentially more necessary in inclement weather.

As a rule, I ignore the disaster weenies who are always forecasting doom because of climate change, wild swings in weather conditions and so on.  While their stupid predictions are not worth thinking about, the inescapable fact is that the Big Freeze of February 2021 has exposed our vulnerability and the fragility of our energy supply grid.  This time it was freakish weather, but that doesn’t mean it will never happen again.  The consequences of failure are too great for us to do nothing, and hope that the law of averages will come to our rescue in the future, because if averages tell us anything, it’s not to rely on them.  A polar freeze which happens every fifty years on average means that you could have one every year for the next ten years and not another one for the next five hundred.  That’s the way to look at averages, and it’s no way to gamble with the well-being of your citizens and the state economy.

Get it done.  And don’t even think of imposing a state income tax to raise the money — I shouldn’t even have to mention it, but some idiot will.


  1. I have to wonder how many power plants you could build by selling that wind energy to California.

    Then I think, how long will California be able to pay the bills?

    Maybe just sell them the equipment, while they still think they have money.

    Edit: You also need to have a protocol in place to allow power plants to operate at full capacity regardless of what the DOE or EPA says.

    1. Your edit is the only point Kim missed.

      And there’s already a SCOTUS decision that says you can’t reduce what a state is currently getting in funds to force it to impose new costs on itself. It was the infamous Obamacare decision, and that part is seldom mentioned.

    2. The DOE and the EPA don’t regulate how much power a plant can produce or when — They just add a layer of rules to make it harder to do so.

      Power plants can only operate at full capacity if they have a corresponding load. The electricity has to go somewhere and be used. It’s hard and expensive to store electricity. and that’s the advantage of being part of the larger grid. The larger grid allows for less fluctuation of the load demand . A small grid – even if it is the size of Texas – makes it harder to deal with big load fluctuations — say when a hurricane or snow storm suddenly ” disconnects ” a large number of users. Things get overloaded or circuit breakers trip or major power lines go off line …. and presto — you black out the entire east coast as happened in the 70’s . They learned and made changes. Now it less likely — still possible – but less likely. Texas will need to join the rest of the grid.

  2. So you want the government to do all of that without it costing you a penny… How do you think they’re going to pay for it if they don’t increase taxes?

    1. Governments never worry about paying for stuff without raising taxes for any of their pet Trans Polar bear summer shelters in downtown slums projects, why should we ask that they pay for necessary stuff? Maybe they can do without the pet projects and still manage to get their plantation voters to reelect them. It would certainly be an improvement over what we get now.

  3. IIRC, one of the things Perry did right, was to get the Texas Constitution amended to PROHIBIT the imposition of a State Income Tax. So, that’s a hurdle in front of the taxers that they’ll not soon surmount.

    I’d be very willing to see each and every utility bill in Texas “feature” a $10 per month surcharge to go DIRECTLY into these projects. Just program the billing computers to take that $10, and route it directly to whichever “account” is going to be footing the bills for the upgrades. No “accounting” office needed, no bureaucracy. Just a simple line of code, and DONE.

    And for those folks who got the Bill from Hell ’cause they’re on a “wholesale” electric account? They can pay a $10 per month INSURANCE premium against such spikes, as long as there’s an insurer who’d run the numbers and see “potential” in issuing such policies. The odds are very much on the side of the insurers though, to not have to pay out but for rather infrequent intervals.

    Otherwise, Kim, I fully concur with your missive, here. Oh, and put up a Ten Million Dollar “X-Prize” for whoever comes up with a viable disposal method for dead windmills. Burying them in a pit in Wyoming has a limited shelf life, I’d imagine.

    Sunk New Dawn
    Galveston, TX

    1. “Burying them in a pit in Wyoming has a limited shelf life, I’d imagine.”

      Hey, we don’t want the fucking things! Air drop them on Martha’s Vineyard!

      1. I have to admit I’m rather surprised that no one has figured out how to use those blades in housing or other small structures. They’ve figured out how to use old tires and glass bottles to make small houses, why not those?

    2. Cali is so fixated on windmills, ship the non-functional ones to them. Let them recycle all that useless crap.

  4. The main thing we need to do is to require wind to hedge itself. Wind power needs to guarantee some level of production. They know they can’t do it with turbines, so that will force them to build peak load natgas production plants to go with the turbines. Problem solved.

    Of course, if we weren’t subsidizing turbines, this wouldn’t be an issue, like I said nearly 20 years ago.

    Wind power is too unreliable for anything, and is usually a liability. For most base load plants, like nuke or coal, you have to build up steam. It doesn’t happen all at once. You know about what your load is going to be. If the wind is up, you have to either continue to burn fuel and vent the steam (because you can’t save electricity — you just lose it as heat) or you stop burning fuel and lose your head of steam. Then, the wind dips. Or it dies out. At that point, you have to bring the steam back up, but that doesn’t happen all at once. You have two choices at that point — you can fire up some peak demand LNG plants, and burn more gas while you bring the base load plants back up, or you can brown-out areas. Either one sucks. Wind power is a gimmick, and it is one that is going to bite us in the ass when it gets too widespread.

  5. Solar panels(PV panels) are not a gimmick, and they work quite well; as long as the sun is shining.

    The biggest problem is that most folks don’t want a backup battery bank attached to their PV system, they want grid intertie only. It’s much simpler, far less maintenance, no expensive batteries to replace.
    The disadvantage of grid intertie only is that when the grid goes down, their PV system does too; it has to, for safety reasons.
    There are hybrid PV intertie systems available with battery backup, but they are expensive and more maintenance -intensive.

    So……horses for courses, and all that.

    1. Solar tech ( PV) has greatly improved over the last 2 or 3 years. Tesla Powerwalls and other battery systems do much more that just provide backup power.

      Tesla Solar systems are configured priced and sold with accompanying PowerWalls integrated into the system and specifically designed to help load balance the grid, smooth the peaks and valleys of demand and supply at the local level. Each systems comes with a “Intellegent switching system” to either power your house, charge the batteries, or supply power to the grid depending on a number of different factors. Payment by the utility for Power supplied to the grid is often purchased at premium rates ( Because Solar ) and in most states will more than offset any monthly useage charges. Properly sized systems can have a ROI of 15 years or less .

    2. Yeah the hybrid system is exactly what I want but you are right about the expense and maintenance. I have a (sort of) whole house generator with automatic switching to protect utility workers trying to fix a broken grid so it should be feasible with battery backup too. Generator runs off a propane tank which also provides house heat at need without worrying about pipeline problems which don’t exist here anyway. So if there are to be subsidies of renewals, subsidize this instead of utility level renewables. That way you get power, resiliency and it should be cost neutral assuming you can extract the current subsidies from the utility grifters.

  6. Having a gas water heater and a gas stove means that when the electric grid goes down, you still can cook and take a warm shower.
    If you have gas central heat, you only need a modest generator to run the thermostat and blower motor.

    And if you have a fireplace or wood stove, even better.

  7. Getting completely on the grid won’t happen. ALL generators will need to be rebuilt to match impedance. Then you need to decide West or East power grid?

    Currently power is moved between the East and West grids with a silly kludge: Giant AC motors run giant DC generators, DC power is transmitted a few yards to DC motors, that run properly impedance matched AC generators attached to the other grid.

    Building some more 4 gen liquid salt nuke plants would work better.

    And don’t send those fucking windmills to Wyoming.

    1. Are you sure about the AC->DC conversion? Even South American countries use rectifiers.

      South American countries are also using inverters with gigantic filters to match frequency & phase of the target grid electricity is being moved too.

      1. Rectifiers lose the current in the downside of the three phase sine waves.

        You lose half the wattage, and get a spiky dc current.

        They do it this way to avoid that loss.

      2. Filters also block watts. It sounds like these folks in SA are half assing to avoid capital investment

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