RE: Texas Power Situation

It’s all pretty stupid.

I’m sure you encountered a lot of “just in time” inventory stuff in your truck industry days.

Not a bad idea when you are making durable goods. A potentially disastrous idea when you are making non-storable, life-support-critical electric power. 

Time was, electric power meant coal and nuclear with a little of this or that (nat gas/diesel) thrown in for load balancing.

Thing about coal and nuclear is that they have fuel on site. In the case of nuclear, lots of fuel. At least a year’s worth. In the case of coal, at least a month’s worth. Probably more. 

(My utility in Green Bay ran a coal plant for years that could only receive fuel via lake boat. Every winter the bay would freeze over, so the plant had to stock up during the fall and early winter to have enough fuel to make it until the bay thawed in the spring.)

Some might look at that and see wasted inventory carrying costs. I look at it and see robustness. The entire supply chain for that plant (BTW, decommissioned a few years ago due to EPA) could be shut off for months at a time and it would never skip a beat.

Now, we’ve decided that natural gas is the way to power the country. And that’s fine. Fracking has given us lots of gas. But the problem is gas is essentially non-storable. Sure, there’s a little storage here and there, but fundamentally, gas gets consumed at the same rate it is produced. 

And that’s a problem, when suddenly winter weather hits in the major gas producing regions of the country, and supply gets interrupted. Now gas pipeline operators have to make a decision: Do we cut off the electric plant? Or do we cut off 250,000 homeowners?

Solar and wind? We’re seeing a perfectly clear example today of why that’s a dumb idea. At least it’s dumb to rely on it. If you want to use it under ideal conditions to displace generation from coal plants, have at it. But that is very different from saying we don’t need the coal plant.

Fundamentally, my reaction is bemused detachment. Plenty of us have been warning for years that there would come a day when reality would punch society in the mouth and teach us a lesson for our foolishness. Today is one of those days.

But sadly, the Really Smart People won’t learn a thing. They will shrug off and ignore the hundreds of weather related deaths that are happening at this very moment, and continue to bleat about the glories of windmills.

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