In her kitchen, Juanita Hall routinely found opossums staring back at her from the cage trap she kept under the table. In one room, the flooring had simply washed away. The door to the back bedroom — her mother’s, and still filled with her possessions — stayed closed. Those walls, like many others in the house, were streaked with mold.
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Winter may still have a surprise or two in store for us, like the four feet of snow that fell in the Rockies last week. Odds are, however, that the polar vortex of 2021* – or the “Texas Freeze” as it has been dubbed – will still hold the title for the extreme weather event of the season when the last snowflake falls.
Former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz on Monday told lawmakers that recent extreme weather events in Texas underscored the need to better incorporate climate change risks into energy infrastructure. “Climate change means that the weather patterns of the past are not adequate to inform those of the future,” Moniz said at a hearing hosted by the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
As Winter Storm Uri wreaked havoc on the American Midwest this past February with bitter cold snow, entire power grids shut down and states like Texas faced a crisis like never before. Conservative politicians put the blame on renewable energy, particularly wind and solar. “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,” Governor Greg Abbot told Fox News.
Texas businesses and homeowners are scrambling to buy back-up generators following last month’s Texas Blackout, calculating the benefits will outweigh the costs the next time a polar vortex pays a visit.
Only a fraction of the $16 billion in Texas electricity overcharges stemming from last month’s blackouts can likely be recovered for consumers by attempting to reverse the charges, an independent market monitor said Thursday. The monitor—which first disclosed last week that Texas appeared to have charged $16 billion too much for electricity during the winter storm that left millions without power in freezing temperatures—said that after further review, it believed the most that likely could be clawed back is $3.2 billion.
In the past decade, wind power capacity has tripled, and it’s projected to double in the decades to come. Wind is now America’s top renewable source of electricity generation, and the domestic offshore industry is finally taking off, as major manufacturers debut ever larger and more powerful turbines. While the industry faces some challenges with permitting, public opposition from various interest groups, and the obvious intermittency issues, there’s no doubt that wind is poised to play a major role in the energy transition. The question is just how fast it will grow.
We don’t realize how fragile the basic infrastructure of our civilization is.
Last week, a blast of Arctic air engulfed much of the central US, bringing freezing conditions and record low temperatures to many states. Texas, in particular, has been badly affected, with grid operators hit by power outages and struggling to provide electricity to millions of residents.