Statement: Texas Should Lead On Energy, Not Politicize ERCOT’s Winter Freeze

Statement from Jeff Clark, President of the Advanced Power Alliance:

The extraordinary storm we’ve endured this week is the winter storm of the century, and the widespread power outages it triggered are a tragedy that has touched us all. Every type of power generator has been affected — and every segment is working diligently to restore power and return life back to normal. 

That’s why efforts by some to demonize wind and solar energy are so damaging and counterproductive, especially here in the energy capital of the world. We cannot allow this storm to be politicized or to let narrow, special interests pit our Texas energy resources against one another. As our organization has advocated for years, Texas succeeds when we leverage all of our energy resources to deliver cleaner, cheaper, Texas-made power to consumers. 

From the wellhead to the power plant, our system this week suffered catastrophic damage from a cold weather event beyond what our state had contemplated and planned for. From renewables like wind and solar to thermal power plants running on natural gas and coal, every generator was impacted.

A portion of the state’s wind fleet, which was already anticipated to be a small part of the power supply during this time, was hindered by ice. More significantly, the storm wreaked havoc on thermal generators such as natural gas and coal plants, which froze under brutal arctic conditions and saw their fuel supplies constrained as prices for power and fuel soared. Roughly 40 percent of the state’s generation capacity has been offline because of weather at some point.

With so many Texans now suffering, we all need to understand this reality and should not be diverted by false claims that seek to blame only one energy segment. I am pleased the Legislature will be holding hearings to examine the data.

Moving forward, we must also consider innovative policy solutions that would have averted this disaster, and the costs we’re willing to pay for them. That means planning for worsening storms, increasing transmission capacity, hardening our systems to withstand increasingly inclement weather, and ensuring that “rolling blackouts” — which should always be a last resort — are actually able to roll between neighborhoods. 

It also means coming together to create a system that is reliable and affordable, and that fortifies Texas’ energy leadership, with expanded wind capacity, and continued reliance on natural gas and other forms of energy.

I and the Advanced Power Alliance remain committed to an energy system that leverages the best attributes of Texas’ energy resources to deliver cleaner, cheaper, reliable power to consumers. As we face the reality of this week’s storm, it’s time to work together to honestly assess the data and fix the systems that failed us.

About the APA: The Advanced Power Alliance is the industry trade association created to promote the development of wind and solar energy, along with natural gas, as clean, reliable, affordable, and infinite sources of power. The Alliance is the advanced power industry’s voice within the fourteen states that comprise the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) and Southwest Power Pool (SPP) systems, including portions of Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas and Wyoming.