Crenshaw on wind turbines: Texas learned 'too many renewable energy lessons from California'
Texas primarily relies on nuclear, gas and coal-generated energy
Republican Texas Rep. Dan Crenshaw on Wednesday took a crack at explaining why Texas' energy infrastructure couldn't handle this week's winter storm in the state.
The unusually harsh winter storm has killed at least 23 people, according to the New York Times, and left millions of customers without power in the state amid dangerously low temperatures.
"With blackouts across Texas, many are wondering: what happened? Leftists are cheering a 'red state' having energy problems," Crenshaw tweeted. "Here's the truth about what happened."
He said that "A mix of over-subsidized wind energy and under-investment in gas power" led to an insufficient supply of baseload energy to meet "a massive spike in demand."
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"Also, Texas infrastructure isn't designed for once-in-a-century freezes," he said.
Crenshaw added that some wind turbines in West Texas had to be "de-iced," leading to a drop in wind power from 31 gigawatts to 6, and the existing wind energy stored in batteries was also depleted because the batteries could not handle the cold weather.
Additionally, one of four nuclear reactors in Texas turned off "due to a safety sensor freezing" and oil and gas could not be transported because of frozen pipes, the congressman said.
Democratic politicians and left-wing pundits have seized the opportunity to criticize the red state's capabilities in dealing with harsh winter weather after Republican politicians and right-wing pundits criticized California's shift toward green energy as the reason behind its summer blackouts.
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Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a sponsor of the progressive "Green New Deal" climate plan, said in a Wednesday tweet that "the infrastructure failures in Texas are quite literally what happens when you *don’t* pursue a Green New Deal."
Crenshaw, however, said California deals with these types of energy issues "ALL the time" and "without rare weather events," adding that "Texas’s biggest mistake was learning too many renewable energy lessons from California."
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The congressman blamed the state's infrastructure shortfalls this week on "years of federal subsidies for wind" that has led to an "over-reliance" on the clean energy source "and an under-investment in new gas and nuclear plants," adding that fossil fuels "are the only thing" that saved the state's residents from freezing.
"Can we ever rely on renewables to power the grid during extreme weather? No, you need gas or nuclear," he wrote. "And subsidizing investment in wind has pushed gas and nuclear out. Now we live with the consequences."
The Texas Tribune on Wednesday noted that the lack of wind energy available in Texas right now makes up only a fraction of the total loss of the state's power-generating capabilities that has left millions without power.
The outlet cited the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which said Tuesday that Texas had lost 16 gigawatts of energy from wind turbines versus 30 gigawatts from nuclear, gas and coal energy.
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"Gas is failing in the most spectacular fashion right now," Michael Webber, an energy resources professor at the University of Texas at Austin, told the outlet.
Crenshaw said this week's tribulations raise "serious concerns about the reliability of renewable-reliant power grids during extreme weather" and "the push to decommission baseload power sources like natural gas, which are more reliable than wind and are critical right now to keeping the lights on in Texas."
He continued: "All of this calls into question our ability in Texas to prepare for extreme weather events and plan power accordingly, so we’re not relying on frozen wind turbines to heat our homes during a blizzard. I’ll be joining my Texas colleagues in getting to the bottom of what happened so it never happens again. In the meantime, please stay warm, stay safe, and stay strong."
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Many Democratic politicians, including President Biden, have been pushing toward a shift away from the use of fossil fuel energy in an effort to combat climate change, arguing that oil, gas and coal could endanger wildlife, pollute drinking water and air, and put minority and poor communities at risk of greater health concerns.