Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Op-Ed By Sen. Yaw Comparing Gov. Wolf's Energy Policies To Those That Caused The Blackout In Texas Is Simply Wrong

 On February 23, Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming), Majority Chair of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, circulated an op-ed entitled, "For Sneak Peak Of Wolf's Energy Policies, Mosey On Down To Texas."

House Republican Chair of the Appropriations Committee made similar comments during DEP’s budget hearing on February 22.  Read more here.

Sen. Yaw’s op-ed said-- "The ongoing and catastrophic blackouts in Texas have been exacerbated by the state’s transition from the reliable and resilient electric generation of coal to unreliable wind and solar power."

This conclusion is not based on the facts, based on energy reporting by Reuters on February 19.  Read more here.

Reuters concluded-- “During a historic cold snap that has left millions of Texans without electricity, water, and heat for days, claims that the state’s use of renewable energy sources, specifically wind energy, are to blame have circulated on television and social media. 

“These claims are misleading, as they shift blame for the crisis away from what appears, so far, to be the root cause: record cold temperatures that affected generation and transportation across all fuel types (including, but not limited to, wind energy), combined with the inability of the state’s independent and isolated electricity grid (operated by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT) to source supplies from elsewhere.”

The fact is, 67.6 percent of electricity generated in Texas comes from natural gas-- 47.3 percent-- and coal--20.3 percent.  Wind energy provides 20 percent and solar supplies 1.1 percent.

On the worst days, power was out for 4.4 million households when extreme cold resulted in the loss of at least 40 percent of the state's generating capacity, chiefly natural gas wells, pipelines, along with windmills.

ERCOT, the Texas grid operator itself said thermal sources of generation such as coal, gas and nuclear lost nearly twice as much power due to the cold than renewable energy sources, which contributed to just 13 percent of the power outages.

In a statement provided to Reuters via email, Ed Crooks, vice chairman of Wood Mackenzie’s Americas division, said, “The crisis in Texas was not caused by the state’s renewable energy industry.  The largest loss of generation came from gas-fired power plants, with the drop-off from wind farms a long way behind.”

He explained, however, that “the loss of power has been a warning of the issues that will be raised as the proportion of renewable generation on the grid rises.” 

Crooks said that businesses and policymakers who are managing the transition to green energy must pay careful attention to the kinds of catastrophic risks that Texas is experiencing by building resilient generation, transmission and distribution equipment.

In a statement to Reuters via email, Paul Goydan, a senior partner at Boston Consulting Group who leads the firm’s energy practice in North America, said that there “were extended power outages because large portions of the U.S. natural gas supply were taken offline due to weather, and generation sources of all types froze from the extreme cold.”

Click Here for a more complete explanation from Reuters factcheck team.

Pennsylvania is part of the 13-state PJM Interconnection electric grid.  PJM said in a statement February 18 the diverse fuel mix and a robust reserve margin, regional transmission planning and winter preparation make it unlikely a Texas-type failure will occur.  Read more here.

Pennsylvania's energy situation is fundamentally different that Texas.

[Posted: February 23, 2021]  PA Environment Digest

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