The blackout threat for which Texans were forewarned is upon them as the South sizzles under the midsummer sun. Americans should take a lesson from the state’s plight and take pains to avoid the looming consequences of President Biden’s effort to purge fossil-fuel energy from modern life.
It has been touch and go for the Lone Star State’s power grid since operators at the Electric Reliability Council of Texas reported recently that temperatures cresting 100 degrees augured a potential power shortfall “with no market solution available.” Weather Channel forecasts of triple digits in Dallas through the end of the month portend danger for blackouts that energy regulators alert last spring could cascade across half the nation.
Thankfully, West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin’s refusal to back Mr. Biden’s Build Back Better Act has temporarily stymied the administration’s sweeping plans to replace fossil fuels with “green” energy. Still, the president’s campaign, initiated during the Obama era, persists against oil, natural gas and coal, and the damage is already evident.
Climate-change pressure for utilities to sell increasing proportions of renewable energy to their customers has invigorated the construction of wind and solar projects. However, vagaries of nature, like Texas’ 2021 ice storm and its current heat wave, can overwhelm the supply of electricity just when it’s needed most. An analysis by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas found that while the state’s reserve energy appears adequate, “summer margins can be significantly reduced during high temperatures, extensive power plant outages and low renewables output.”
Voila. Grid operators have parried blackouts thus far by urging the state’s 29 million residents to conserve energy by reducing their air-condition usage. And electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla has urged its Texas customers to refrain from charging during peak hours those costly, battery-powered cars that Biden officials have been hectoring Americans to purchase. The cost of back-to-nature living, it seems, might include walking.
Texas isn’t alone in facing energy deficiencies. The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) has warned that drought conditions in the West have cut hydroelectric output, resulting in a 2.3 percent decline in Western power generation capacity. As utilities look east for help, NERC warns Midwestern states could be overtaxed as fossil-fuel power plants are closed permanently.
Although 14.9 gigawatts of mostly coal-power electricity plants scheduled for retirement this year are set to be replaced by 46.1 gigawatts of mostly solar- and wind-powered electricity, cloudy and calm stretches still mean energy shortfalls without fossil-fuel plants at the ready.
A glimpse of a future devoid of sufficient energy is emerging overseas. Retaliating against Europe’s support for Ukraine during its ongoing invasion, Russia has curtailed natural gas supplies to the continent. The move has prompted Germany and Austria to contemplate reopening shuttered coal plants. Raising a worst-case scenario, Deutsche Bank has suggested Germans return this winter to their ancestors’ method of keeping warm: burn firewood.
Americans wishing to maintain the benefits of modern civilization should resist Mr. Biden’s de facto energy devolution.