Millions of Texans were left without power or water for several days after the state’s power system caved to significant weather-related stress. The exact number of people who died from the exert cold is not yet known.
Schumer used the tragedy as an opportunity to blast Texas Republicans who have “ignored climate change.”
“The bottom line is, Texas thought it could go it alone and built a system that ignored climate change,” Schumer said. “It was not what’s called resilient, and now Texas is paying the price. I hope they learned a lesson.”
Texas should have considered the effects of climate change when constructing its energy system, Schumer argued.
“When we build power, when we build anything now, we have to take into account that climate change is real, or people will have to be caught the way the people in Texas were,” he said. “When I wrote the [Hurricane] Sandy bill, $60 billion for New York, we made sure everything was resilient,” he added. “When they built back the subways, built back this, built back that, they were going to be resistant to climate changes, and we have to do that.”
However, climate change was not the reason Texas’s power grid failed, according to data research firm Cascend.
In fact, green energy was largely responsible for the blackouts, since the deep freeze locked up wind turbine generators and failed to deliver the 40% of power it normally supplies.
Natural gas helped make up the difference for a while, but the state did not have a sufficient amount of reserves — such as from nuclear, coal or oil — that could make up the shortfall.
The state’s regulatory regime does not require such reserves to be on hand for back-up in extreme circumstances.
Texas’s failure to weatherize its system and require reserve sources of coal and oil to be on hand is also to blame for the power outages, according to a report on the website of climatologist Judith Curry.
“Anyone can look at Texas and observe that fossil fuel resources could have performed better in the cold. If those who owned the plants had secured guaranteed fuel, Texas would have been better off. More emergency peaking units would be a great thing to have on hand,” the report said.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said the blackouts prove “fossil fuel is necessary.”
“This shows how the Green New Deal would be a deadly deal for the United States of America,” Abbott told Fox News last week. “Our wind and our solar got shut down, and they were collectively more than 10 percent of our power grid, and that thrust Texas into a situation where it was lacking power on a statewide basis.”
Former Energy Secretary Rick Perry also urged officials to learn from Texas’s mistakes and hold on to fossil fuels.
“If wind and solar is where we’re headed, the last 48 hours ought to give everybody a real pause and go wait a minute,” he said. “The frozen turbines out in West Texas is a freakish event. But that’s what the government is supposed to think about—what are the freakish events that can occur that could cost people their lives, and to protect against that.”
The two most recent Republican governors are partly responsible for the excess emphasis on wind power, helping build an promote economic incentives framework to promote its expansion.