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.