We Need To Dispel the Myth That Fossil Fuel Power Plants Are Reliable
Building more fossil fuel power plants will make our grid less, not more, reliable.
Two years ago, a polar vortex caused the electric grid in Texas to fail, leading to hundreds of deaths. Before the storm was even over, Republican leaders in the state took to cable TV and social media to point fingers at renewable energy.
Gov. Greg Abbott told Sean Hannity, “This shows how the Green New Deal would be a deadly deal for the United States of America.” Another state official quipped on Facebook, “We should never build another wind turbine in Texas.”
It wasn’t just Texas politicians and pundits weighing in on the disaster though. “This is a perfect example of the need for reliable energy sources like natural gas & coal,” said Montana Republican Senator Steve Daines.
On social media, images of frozen wind turbines went viral despite the fact they were taken in Sweden 7 years before and had nothing to do with Texas.
These news segments and social media posts reached millions of Americans. But they were all based on a lie.
Seven months after the blackouts, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) released the definitive report on what happened in Texas. They concluded that fossil fuels, not renewables, caused the electric grid failure. According to the report, natural gas fuel supply issues were responsible for 87% of the outages.
Nevertheless, the fossil fuel industry and their allies continued to push the narrative that renewables were to blame for the disaster in Texas.
A month after FERC released its report, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin justified not voting for Build Back Better and its historic climate investments by saying a rapid transition to clean energy would “have catastrophic consequences for the American people like we have seen in both Texas and California in the last two years.”
But this myth hasn’t just misled people into believing that renewables are unreliable; it’s also led the public and lawmakers into believing the similarly false idea that fossil fuel power is reliable.
Fossil fuel infrastructure has a history of failing in extreme weather
The disaster in Texas is one of the most famous examples of failing fossil fuel infrastructure, but it’s far from the only one.
Just a few months ago, on Christmas weekend, 1.7 million people lost power when temperatures plummeted across the country. Immediately following the storm, the Wall Street Journal’s Editorial Board ran a story arguing that “the government’s force-fed green energy transition” was to blame.
Again, the data said otherwise.