Conservation Appeals Show Wind, Solar Weakness

Solar panels and wind turbine
Solar panels and wind turbine | Image by Jason Winter/Shutterstock

After electricity customers in Texas were repeatedly asked to conserve energy due to demand threatening to outstrip capacity, some Texas leaders noted that wind and solar energy sources are dramatically underperforming.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) is the independent power grid covering most of the state. Over the past week, it has issued repeated conservation appeals, asking Texans to reduce energy consumption to avoid potential blackouts.

Many times, the lack of energy generation was the result of failures in “green energy” production.

For example, on August 26, ERCOT told residents the need for energy conservation was the result of “low wind and potential low solar generation and high demand.”

That same day, Rep. Jared Patterson (R-Frisco), who works in the energy services industry, noted, “Thermal generation sources (natural gas, coal and nuclear) are performing at 72.5% of their installed capacity while renewable sources are performing at 26% of their installed capacity.”

“As a percentage of what’s available, more renewable sources are OFFLINE than thermal sources are ONLINE,” he emphasized.

“Please understand I’m not opposed to certain sources of generation because of politics or industry pressures,” Patterson continued. “I’m opposed to any utility-scale generation source that doesn’t work when we need it.”

Following several more days of conservation warnings and close calls, Rep. Ben Bumgarner (R-Flower Mound) announced, “ERCOT will issue another conservation warning today. It’s frustrating and unacceptable.”

“Texas is a trailblazer in oil and gas and [because] of failed green policies Texas is vulnerable to blackouts,” he added. “Next session I will be writing legislation to get more natural gas plants online.”

Rep. Nate Schatzline (R-Fort Worth) agreed, telling Bumgarner, “With you 100% on this!”

Texas Railroad Commissioner Wayne Christian similarly highlighted the failure of wind and solar to function sufficiently.

“It’s simple math: more unreliable energy + increased demand = less electricity = rolling blackouts,” he explained. “We need to end taxpayer subsidies and preferential treatment for unreliable energy so that reliable energy can compete.”

Nevertheless, supporters of wind and solar claim that the energy sources are invaluable for Texas.

Aaron Zubaty, the CEO of the investment company Eolian, which specializes in “green” energy products, claimed, “Without this amount of added solar resources, the grid would be in dire straits during midday hours,” per The Texas Tribune.

A report by the energy analysis systems firm IdeaSmiths says that renewable energy on the state’s grid system lowered the cost of electricity in Texas by $11 billion in 2022. Renewable forms of energy have saved Texas electricity customers approximately $1,000 over the past five years, according to ABC News.

Similarly, Doug Lewin of Stoic Energy suggested, “Wind and solar have made a massive difference, both for reliability and, very importantly, for cost as well,” per ABC.

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