In a recent opinion letter, Mr. William McIntyre accused me of “bluster” when I cited data showing how Texas suffered power outages, in part, because they have an overdependence on wind energy and lost too many coal plants. Mr. McIntyre takes three swings and strikes out:
(1) He argues that wind underperformed in Texas because they failed to winterize like colder states. Data from the grid operator completely rejects his claim and vindicates mine. It shows that the vast majority of the wind “no-show” during the event occurred due to a lack of wind, not frozen turbines. Bottom line, winterization can’t make the wind blow.
(2) He then claims that coal had “just as hard a time” as wind and “failed for the same reasons.” The data is clear: coal over-performed relative to installed capacity by 58.3% (jumping from 12% to 19%) while wind underperformed by 75-95% (dropping from 33% to 8% and as low as 1.5% in the heart of the storm). Not exactly the “same hard time.” And “failed for the same reasons?” Coal plants don’t stop operating because the wind stops blowing. Moreover, the data shows that the few coal plants that encountered winterization issues in Texas were isolated and related to fuel handling while the remainder of their coal fleet produced reliably throughout the storm – just like in Wyoming.
(3) Mr. McIntyre concluded by claiming that I ignored natural gas supply issues. Remember, all I said was that Texas missed its coal plants and that Wyoming should not follow suit by retiring coal plants and replacing them with weather-dependent renewables. The problems he points out about the Texas gas supply only proves my point further – we can’t do without reliable and resilient coal.
In a time when folks are looking to reduce carbon, we don’t have to sacrifice the reliability and resilience of our grid. Wyoming has the answer – carbon capture projects at fuel-secure and weather-resilient coal plants. We can learn from Texas and deliver our own low-carbon power using Wyoming coal with carbon capture.