Greed is no secret ingredient to the vile concoction that inebriates greater society’s perception of underlying causalities which plague humankind’s sustainability.
The Texas Blackout of 2021 serves as a prime example, gathering every aspect of a for-profit-system’s logical fallacy and rolling it up into one comprehensive scope of where it all went wrong and why.
Beginning with CNBC contributor Pippa Stevens and her analysis of the systemic effects experienced by the state of Texas as a result of deregulation as well as a lack of precautionary measures in place, we see just how every single travesty produced by storm Uri could have potentially been mitigated, if not entirely prevented.
“ ERCOT does have a reserve margin — the amount of excess supply needed to meet peak power demand — but since the market is unregulated companies don’t want to shoulder the cost. Raising the reserve margin would mean that crises of this magnitude could potentially be avoided down the line. While it would be difficult to force an increase in the reserve margin, incentives could spur adoption.”
Read Pippa’s full article here.
Albeit, monetary ‘incentives’ for energy providers, such as guaranteed government subsidiaries and/or catered-to trading proposals, should Texas politicians choose to denounce their segregation from the U.S. Electric Grid.
Alvin Chang of The Guardian, amplifies the for-profit-motive fueling such crises, by pointing out the following –
“Other states can buy power from surrounding states to meet spiking demands. That’s because the continental US is powered by two big, highly connected grids: the Eastern Interconnection and the Western Interconnection. Texas, however, has insisted on having its own grid with little connection to the other two grids. It’s a point of pride for politicians there, who claim the state has energy independence. By not being connected to the larger grid, Texas was able to avoid regulations on trading electricity across states. Some experts say this lack of regulation is why the Texas grid wasn’t properly maintained and, in turn, failed with these stressors.” Read full article here.
It would be an entirely biased argument to not include the data which represents efforts to alleviate the consequences of the ill-managed power supply – an extreme resort that ended up being ERCOT’s only resolve in the wake of such unexpected conditions – rolling blackouts.
As originally designed, this measure was intended to prevent an all-inclusive blackout by either manually or automatically shifting needed energy from residential/rural areas to municipalities and other necessary infrastructures such as hospitals, nursing homes, to avoid compounding issues due to energy shortages.
“Rolling blackouts generally occur in one area at a time and last for a few hours, but the length of the blackout depends on the severity of the event. Utility providers decide which parts of the city will be subject to rolling blackouts and try to avoid areas with hospitals, medical centers or downtown regions, for which electricity is vital.”, explained by Nexstar Media Wire.
In laymen’s terms, the Texas power grid is designed to deprive some for the sake of others in an effort to remain fiscally unregulated on the market of energy distribution.
Pause – ‘on the market of energy distribution’. Carry on …
As expounded on in the above mentioned reference link, the result is unequivocal inequality presenting as an emphasis on supporting the energy demands of more affluent areas in contrast to depriving those of low-income areas since by default, housing located nearer to conveniences and commodities are naturally priced outside of the blue-collar income range. The effects of the Texas blackout were disproportionately felt by residents who didn’t meet the demographic standards for prioritization.
One of many harrowing stories comes from an unlikely place.
“Primarily Primates – a non-profit animal sanctuary that provides care for hundreds of animals in Bexar County, Texas. ….was among the over four million customers left without power after a rare deep freeze forced the state’s electric grid operator to impose rotating blackouts across the region.” – reports Jon Haworth of abcnews.go.
He spoke to Priscilla Feral, president of Friends of Animals, which has overseen the facility since 2007, in an effort to gauge the inherently mortal issues of power shifting practices.
“Their kindness brings some comfort during this nightmare. They are heroes, and so are our staff members … Every animal matters to us and we are devastated.” Its suspected the matriarch Violet didn’t die of hypothermia, but of a consequential stroke.
Then there’s the horrific accounts of families dying from desperate attempts to stay warm, gone wrong. People on the streets succumbing to the bitter cold. And an 11 yr old boy who froze to death in his bed – an unspeakable moment of discovery for his family.
As humans and animals alike struggle to recuperate from the devastations of a politically and financially premised energy grid in the wake of increasing climate change, the entire nation is faced with the reality that as the atmosphere grows more hostile, so will the demands on electricity and power. The current infrastructure, and as we’ve been made blatantly aware of in Texas; the regulations or lack thereof, are archaic and greatly in need of revision, lest we as a society risk further predicating our collective future on damage control rather than prevention.
Not uncommon to find swirling around times like these are discussions centered on resolve. Primarily focused on renewables/’green energy’. While there is little fault in attempting to shift resolution towards sustainable implements, still yet the detriments of profit based operations will run linear to any purposed solution. Thus why regulation and reform is arguably the ground floor of the grid reform portfolio.
Jason Marmon of the Carbon Series, attempts to tackle the plethora of contributing factors with an outlined approach as seen in full here.
“6. A blaring issue is the older generations in ‘power’ lacking genuine leadership. From an entrepreneurial standpoint this is an opportunity for the younger generations to solve these problems through mobilization and voter turnout ushering in new era of leadership. People and organizations with the energy and tenacity to drive the systemic change needed to increase capacity, build resilience, diversify the grid, and create an equitable energy system.”
Of course, some would argue that incremental change isn’t viable at this point in time when the damage to our climate seems to be increasing exponentially in conjunction with a produce/consume narrative. Whether the focus of resolve becomes hinged on power source diversity, reserves, regulations or winterization of energy harvesting implements, we the people must not forget the single hurdle that stood in the way of preventing this monstrous disaster – the bottom dollar.
‘Mo’ money, mo’ problems’, is no longer a mere cliché.
About the Author L.R. is author of the Revolt Blog, contributor to the Moneyless Society website and social media platforms, a Venus Project Regional Coordinator in training, as well as a multimedia Visual Artist.