Funny how the debate about the Texas blackouts is turning into a predictable culture-war issue. The New York Times offers this hectoring headline: “No, Wind Farms Aren’t the Main Cause of the Texas Blackouts,” over a piece by Dionne Searcey. Of course they aren’t the main cause — as Searcey notes, they make up only about 7 percent of the power mix this time of year. But renewables, mostly wind, make up a disproportionate share of the downed capacity, about 40 percent of it — 18 gigawatts of the 45 gigawatts taken offline — according to the left-leaning Texas Tribune, relying on figures from the state electricity-grid manager.
It’s a complex issue, but when 7 percent of your expected power represents 40 percent of your lost power, that is a significant fact.
Renewables have been subsidized pretty richly, and it is not unreasonable to ask: What if that money had instead been spent on preparing the rest of the electricity infrastructure for events such as this storm — unusual, but by no means unforeseeable — and what light does answering that question throw on future policy decisions?