Deep Thoughts By Lauren Boebert: “Frozen Windmills”

The arctic blast of cold air that dunked temperatures along the Front Range below well zero has caused big problems down in Texas where this kind of cold is decades-apart infrequent. Learning of major power shortages that have become prolonged power outages in Texas yesterday, Colorado’s Rep. Lauren Boebert did what she does best–swung into half-cocked action on Twitter.

But is it true? As Bloomberg News reports, not so much:

While ice has forced some turbines to shut down just as a brutal cold wave drives record electricity demand, that’s been the least significant factor in the blackouts, according to Dan Woodfin, a senior director for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which operates the state’s power grid.

The main factors: Frozen instruments at natural gas, coal and even nuclear facilities, as well as limited supplies of natural gas, he said. “Natural gas pressure” in particular is one reason power is coming back slower than expected Tuesday, added Woodfin. [Pols emphasis]

“We’ve had some issues with pretty much every kind of generating capacity in the course of this multi-day event,” he said.

As anyone who knows about oil and gas production in cold regions of the country can tell you, temperatures below the design rating of gas wellheads can cause them to freeze precisely when consumers need BTUs most. When a warm climate like Texas is flash-frozen by an arctic cold front, all kinds of things that are supposed to work stop working, including energy infrastructure both clean and dirty. As it turns out, when “the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow,” sometimes the gas doesn’t flow either.

In the case of wind turbines, it’s a question of what they’re engineered to withstand. Wind turbines designed for use in Antarctica, for example, naturally have more protection against ice and extreme cold than wind turbines in Texas.

Wind shutdowns accounted for 3.6 to 4.5 gigawatts — or less than 13% — of the 30 to 35 gigawatts of total outages, according to Woodfin. That’s in part because wind only comprises 25% of the state’s energy mix this time of year.

Again, this is the information you look for if your goal is to actually understand what is happening. That is simply not Rep. Boebert’s priority in these situations. Hearing that windmills were icing up in Texas provided the launching point for misinformation Boebert already had ready to go, and the facts of the matter are only there to get in the way.

36 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Diogenesdemar says:

    Meanwhile in balmy Antartica, the Ross Island Windfarm is in something like it's eleventh year of operation . . .

    The electrical system between Scott Base and McMurdo was tested by powering Scott Base from the McMurdo power plant for more than 48 hours; this also provided training of operators at both sites for when the system was commissioned early in the 2009-10 season.

    Two thirds of the electricity produced from this phase goes to McMurdo…and the rest to Scott Base. This installation provides about 15% of the demand from McMurdo, and 87% of the electrical demand at Scott Base, with fuel savings of about 120,000 gallons per year. As for the future, preliminary studies have been done to locate up to 10 additional turbine sites in the Arrival Heights area, although some of these are in the Specially Protected Area. Alternative sites north of town could accommodate perhaps 4 machines.

    . . . no word yet on how many helicopters are employed.


  2. MichaelBowman says:

    Isn’t it nice not to be waterboarded by this stupidity 24/7 anymore?  Just sporadic snippets of mind- numbingly idiotic vomits of conscience by the MAGA faithful. It’s like getting a mini-SNL Cold Open every day. 

    • Duke Cox says:

      Calamity Jane made the Google newsfeed today in a piece from Gizmodo…the author referred to her as a “shitposter”.

      Reminds me of an Allman Brothers song….”Tied to the Shittin’ Post” wait….well…nevermind.😏

  3. davebarnes says:

    The moran is strong in her minuscule brain.

  4. COgator95 says:

    This lady is as mentally deep as a puddle in the hot July sun.

  5. I don't know if she is intelligent or not. What I do know is that she is very good at tapping into Qpublican angst and zeitgeist. Regardless of "smart" or "dumb" – that makes her evil: ready, willing, and able to use easily disproven factoids to advance her public persona. Just like the Qpublican God, DJT.

    Frankly, we should be focusing a lot more on the values side. Truth. Justice. And, yes, the American Way. When we call somebody "stupid" that the Q-public idolizes, we just reinforce in their minds the idea that we look down on them.

    I pity them instead, and hope we can rebuild a relationship with them along with a lifeline back to reality for them. If we cannot, there will be suffering and human misery untold. We may never see eye-to-eye on policy – that's OK – but we really need to be living in the same shared reality.

    • Duke Cox says:

      A thoughtful consideration, certainly, but I think you may be too hopeful. 

      Regular ignorance is easily cured by educating the willing. Willful ignorance, on the other hand, is a stain that is very hard to remove. Calamity Jane is a product of her environment. Her world view has largely been built on lies on top of lies. She believes her own bullshit.

      Dunning-Kreuger on display.

      • You may well be right. In my darkest moments, I think similar thoughts. But I hope you are wrong, and I hope we can find some way out of this escalating cycle of conspiracy-theory-driven fear mongering.

        • Duke Cox says:

          After years of working in, dealing with, observing, then writing about the O&G industry and its spawn, faith in human nature can be sorely tested. Make no mistake, Congresswoman Boebert(..Pew..pew … as some of my friends call her) is a product of, by, and for the oil and gas industry. The rancher/ cowboy connection is coincidental and just for show. She is definitely one of those OilyGirlz.

          Perhaps she is Eliza Doolittle reborn and will grow into a sophisticated, articulate, champion for the earth and its less fortunate denizens. Or…not.

          • I was not clear – I think there is no hope of bridging the gap with Boebert (or DJT, or any of his other clones). I'm talking about the individual voters. I hope we can bring "enough" of them back to reality so that we can return to some semblance of rationality.

            • gertie97 says:

              Gorky, Duke and I both live among the willfully ignorant trumplican voters of the 3rd CD. I see no way to bridge the gap with people who refuse to acknowledge facts that don't fit with their own view of how things are or ought to be.


              • Although I live in CD2, I have many friends and family members who are in the MAGA camp. I won't give up on them. I do know – if I don't *try* to bridge the gap, I'm certain to fail. Some of them will certainly never come around. But some may. The "Hur hur hur they are all so STOOPID" posts from my own side make my efforts much more difficult.

                • Duke Cox says:

                  I admire your gentle determination, Gorky, and I wish you success. I will say, the idea of a shared reality is great…as long as it is the "real" reality.

                  All that proofy, facty, imperical data sorta stuff is kinda fundamental.

    • MichaelBowman says:

      She could have talked about the energy-only design of ERCOT (a free-market-based system with NO parallel capacity market).  She might have mentioned that the entirety of ERCOT’s (fossil fuel) thermal power plants is falling short of capacity; she could have mentioned the TX wind capacity is actually hitting its targets of output.  She could have talked about building a resilient, national grid. Or tackling methane leaks inside the current natural gas infrastructure. 

      Instead, she went to the lowest common (false) denominator and puked her ignorance (feigned or not) to her followers. 

      I’m not sure there’s a single word that can encompass this MAGA-induced plague she’s proliferating but it would likely include the letters v, l, and the vowels e and i. 

    • JohnInDenver says:

      After numerous stinging replies, the Rifle Rep has apparently left MichaelBowman wordless at February 16, 2021 at 5:42 PM MST ….

      I hope he is able to find Rest & Recreation overnight, perhaps with the assistance of an adult beverage of his choice, and will return with his usual cogent thoughts and sharp words tomorrow.

      • MichaelBowman says:

        I wrote something and deleted it twice!  Yes, an adult beverage is in order – and a little recreation (which will be watching The Black Church on PBS). Tomorrow we’ll have to discuss the *f WSJ Editorial Board and their slide into Boebert territory.

      • MichaelBowman says:

        Yesterday was a great reminder of just how fast the coordinated efforts of the minority can magnify bold-faced lies (as the old saying goes, the lie went around the world four times before truth got out of bed). Texas newspapers are weighing in and calling out Abbot’s mischaracterizations.  

        Nearby Oklahoma is experiencing few outages – because they don’t have a ‘go it alone’ policy’; not every problem can be solved by shooting it.  In regards to TX wind,  the regulators made the decision not to winterize the turbines because the likelihood of an event like this was widely believed to be near zero.  It would be akin to refusing to have a defroster installed in your TX SUV to save you a little money because you don’t believe you’ll never need it. 

        There’s a line somewhere between Q-bies lies and magnifying her ignorance on the internet. In this particular issue, the lack of resilience overall in our grid infrastructure particularly as it relates to climate risks, shouldn’t be ignored. The vast majority of the American public is behind us on climate issues and related challenges.  Steady the course. 

        • davebarnes says:

          Don’t Blame Wind for Texas Electricity Woes

          "Rolling blackouts in Texas during a historic winter storm are inviting scrutiny of everything from the grid’s reliance on wind energy to laissez-faire market design. The answer is actually quite simple: Texas isn’t used to the cold."

          This is reporting versus editorial.

          • MichaelBowman says:

            The good news about all of this (once the lies are exposed) is this is a Texas problem. It’s no wonder Abbott snd the other electeds are furiously trying to deflect to the New Green Deal. They chose a go-it-alone energy policy; had they been subjected to federal oversight they would have had some requirements to harden their system (cold-weather turbines and gas lines buried deeper for a start).  We’ve so woefully under-invested in our infrastructure over the past two decades we are flat-footed as we face enormous challenges. I have empathy for Texans who are cold and in the dark, but they’ve voted in a Republican majority for almost two decades; they’re bearing the fruits.  

            • Wong21fr says:

              It’s funny that the two of the three sole-state ISO’s both suffered crippling system failures in extreme weather events in the past year.  One due to insufficient reserve requirements and the other likely due to lack of extreme weather planning and possible insufficient reserves.

              It’s just East Coast elites still standing.

              • MichaelBowman says:

                In California’s case, as I recall, they had the excess generation capacity but state law prevented them from forcing the independent generators to provide energy (and the generators were holding them up with exorbitant pricing)?  

                I’m in California regularly, enough that I stay current with their renewable energy policy. CalISO has a great app where you can watch the mix of resources in real time. It’s like “green porn” for the sustainability crowd!  You can find it by searching ‘ISO Today’ in the App Store.

                As I’m writing this 74% of California’s demand is being met by renewables.

                • Wong21fr says:

                  That was a contributing factor in the 2000 CA brownout crisis.  This past summer was a combination of 1) the heatwave and not modeling for such wide-scale events, 2) the shifting peak hour in CA and the steep drop-off in renewable generation (the duck curve) leading to inadequate resource planning, and 3) practices in the CAISO DA Market such as convergence bidding and under-scheduling (partially caused by over-estimating the efficiency of renewable assets).

                  In short:  CA hasn't adequately planned non-renewable resource capacity (gas, hydro, storage, nukes, etc.) to meet the load when renewable generation falls off a cliff and has been relying on short-term out-of-state market purchases to make up for it.  Unfortunately, the market dried up last summer.

                  • MichaelBowman says:

                    That's helpful.  Thanks.  Cali is at 72% renewables right now but at the bottom of the demand curve for today; it's forecast to peak in eight hours at around 27,000 MW (up from 21,000 at present)

  6. MattC says:

    Global warming is obviously fake.

  7. NOV GOP meltdown says:

    I see pew pew has attended the Trump-blame-everyone-but-yourself finishing school. Real solutions to today's problems.

  8. MichaelBowman says:

    I'd enjoy the opportunity to see a debate between Beto and the Proprietor of Shitters over the TX grid issues.  As he mentions, the design flaw of ERCOT is a feature, not a bug.  

    "We are Nearing a Failed State in Texas"

  9. MichaelBowman says:

    Good reporting this morning on a number of Texas interests calling out the blatant lies by Fox, Abbott, Cruz, Crenshaw regarding their “the wind turbines took down our grid!” narrative.  According to ERCOT even though 1/2 of the fleet was frozen (an avoidable problem), the other half exceeded their forecast output by a factor of 2.  The total energy delivered by the Texas wind farms during this extreme weather event was exactly as forecast even with (as Rush would bloviate about his galaxy half-brain taking on the left) “one hand tied behind their back”. 

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