Rick Perry: Texas' weather crisis – here's how states, nation should prepare for the unexpected

We can’t only rely on wind and solar without the complement of strong baseload power

Texas recently experienced a historic weather event. Like Hurricane Harvey showed us, we are seeing the importance of being prepared for the unexpected.

As a Texan and former governor, it pains me to see the loss of life and struggle our citizens are facing today. Millions of Texans freezing in the dark for days on end is unacceptable. We need to focus on our recovery and then act to ensure we’re properly prepared for future events.

The power outages four million Texas experienced were the result of a perfect storm – record low temperatures, a vulnerable grid and unprecedented demand from customers that stressed the entire system. These factors underscore the need for an all-of-the-above energy strategy – one I advocated for during my time as governor of Texas and secretary of energy.

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Texas is a leader in renewable energy, especially wind. In fact, Texas produces more energy from wind turbines than all but five countries. However, we can’t only rely on wind and solar without the complement of strong baseload power, which renewables do not supply.

The frozen turbines out in West Texas are an abnormal event, but something we need to be prepared for in the future and understand how the situation would have been much worse if Texas solely relied on wind for its electricity.

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Gov. Greg Abbott and the Texas legislature are in the process of addressing the issues Texas has just faced. Texans often look to Texans to solve our problems first, but the federal government can help.

Texas can work with the federal government to analyze new technologies, including weatherization, compact fusion reactors and small modular reactors to ensure grid resiliency. It is through technology – not regulation – that we as a nation can weather this storm and be prepared for future extreme weather events. 

During my tenure as secretary of energy, we worked hard to ensure the federal government was prepared when the states and our industry partners called for help. In 2018, we launched the development of the North American Energy Resilience Model (NAERM), which leveraged the modeling capabilities of eight of the Energy Department's 17 national labs.

The NAERM is a first of its kind modeling capability that integrates the energy infrastructure that sustains the bulk power system. Among other significantly important capabilities, the NAERM models critical infrastructure interdependencies and the potential vulnerabilities that may exist as a result.

President Biden should harken back to the Obama-Biden administration days that advocated for an all-of-the-above strategy.

This is a tool that states and industry should utilize. It is critical we work together to improve our energy security through infrastructure, and protect the reliability of energy Americans consume daily.

The developments in Texas demonstrate the situation could have been far worse if Texas residents relied solely on renewables for power generation, and should serve as a cautionary tale for the Biden administration.

His agenda consists of broader electrification for the transportation sector and 100% clean energy for the electric grid by 2035. Yet both of these initiatives are doomed to fail based on an overreliance on renewables.

President Biden should harken back to the Obama-Biden administration days that advocated for an all-of-the-above strategy – one that recognizes and utilizes a diverse fuel mix, including natural gas, nuclear, wind, solar and coal, to power our energy needs. 

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One of the fundamental roles of government is to ensure our citizens have a reliable energy supply. Electricity powers everything from our hospitals to financial centers. Before some voices advocate for a sharp turn toward renewables, let this incident be a lesson in that we cannot neglect our baseload power, but instead continue to encourage the deployment of more, and not fewer, energy sources.

Texans are resilient, and our state will rebound stronger than ever before, as we work to recover from these unprecedented challenges and devastation over the past week.

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