What Went Wrong
What to know: Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan is already calling for hearings into how the state’s power grid failed to keep up with demand in this historic winter storm.

The TPPF take: In short, it was years of bad policy.
“Texas has lost significant fossil fuel generation capacity over the past several years and instead counted on nearly 20,000 MW of new wind and solar generation to satisfy steadily rising electricity demand,” says TPPFF’s Brent Bennett. “It has been known for years that a weather event combining low wind and solar production and record demand could lead to blackouts. This week, that event became reality as new wind and solar generation failed to produce when it was needed the most.”
For more on what went wrong, click here.

Ghost in the Machine
What to know: ERCOT’s “phantom reserve margins” are partially to blame for its inability to keep up with demand this week.

The TPPF take: The way ERCOT calculates its reserve capacity from renewable source is flawed.
“ERCOT’s reserve forecasts are calculated based on the average contribution of each energy source during peak demand periods,” says TPPF’s Jason Isaac. “Wind and solar energy are intermittent, meaning their contributions to the grid plummet dramatically when the wind stops blowing or the sun stops shining. And although ERCOT clearly has no control over the weather, this challenging situation is made worse when forecasts are based on assumptions that create a false sense of security about the reliability of the grid.”
For more on those phantom margins, click here.

Another Kind of Freeze
What to know: Because the Biden administration has “frozen” the permitting process for drilling for oil and gas on federal lands, rigs are being moved from New Mexico to Texas.

The TPPF take: President Biden’s executive orders on energy production will hurt not just New Mexico, but all of the United States, as well.
“President Biden’s executive overreach will grow government, hurt responsible energy producers, and make the energy we need expensive and scarce — damaging every sector of our economy,” says TPPF’s Katie Tahuahua. “What’s even worse is that none of these actions will affect climate change in the slightest.”
For more on those energy executive orders, click here.