Sunday, February 21, 2021

It's All The Fault Of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (Not The Electric Reliability Council Of Texas)

 For years, apparently, Pacific Gas and Electric has been a giant cash cow - it has generated massive, dependable revenue (people on average always feeling it prudent to pay their electric bills).

And the beauty of that revenue, from PG&E's point of view has been, over the years, that there has been little offsetting expense; they cut and minimized all maintenance and upgrade costs as the money just kept rolling in.

 A couple of years ago that giant cash cow turned into a giant scavenging bird and came home to roost with a vengeance: massive fires killed people and destroyed homes, even to the extreme of destroying an entire town.

PG&E's chronic underinvestment was great for the quarterly reports and the stock price but it allowed for infrastructure that is prone to setting fires to be the company's mainstay out in the field.

That pretty well sums up capitalism at it's worst.

Texas, however, as always the biggest, has just recently gone a step beyond even a major California company; the entire state of Texas has managed to illustrate what not being messed with can produce from the standpoint of robber capitalism fettered by delusional politics.

Texas long ago rolled out an energy grid that has no external supplements or complements: when use becomes too great the grid has to depend upon itself; when the projected use becomes too great the grid has to depend upon itself; the upside to that, I guess, is that Texas doesn't have to share power with anybody else; the downside is, apparently, that when conditions get stressful the whole grid freezes.

The operator of the Texas grid has made a lot of money over the years; as with PG&E the money rolled in  non- respective to what investment in maintenance and upgrades had been made; and as with PG&E, that sort of investment has been minimal or lacking altogether.

So when the grid recently got stressed, and the grid had no external backup, and the pumps that needed to be pumping natural gas to the power plants froze - ERCOT (the acronym for the ironically named Electric Reliability Council of Texas) could have invested in freeze resistant pumps, but that would have been a hit to profits - the whole grid stopped gridding.

(Governor Abbott went on Fox and blamed Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Texas' investment in wind power for the debacle; facts seem to point elsewhere.)

And as with PG&E, the cash cow of ERCOT has just changed into a giant bird that has come home to roost.

Only it was ice this time.

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