(AP) - Conservative commentators on Tuesday shared a false narrative that wind turbines and solar energy were primarily to blame for power outages across Texas as the power grid buckled.
In all, between 2 and 3 million customers in Texas still had no power nearly two full days after historic snowfall and single-digit temperatures created a surge in demand for electricity to warm up homes unaccustomed to such extreme lows, buckling the state’s power grid and causing widespread blackouts.
A variety of misleading claims spread on social media, with the Green New Deal and wind turbines getting much of the attention. But the Texas state power agency said that gas, coal and nuclear plants actually caused nearly twice as many outages as wind and solar power.
On top of that, data from the grid manager, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, shows that while Texas has ramped up wind energy in recent years, the state still only relies on wind power for about 25% of its total electricity.
The grid began preparing for the storm a week ahead of time, but it reached a breaking point early Monday as conditions worsened and knocked power plants offline, ERCOT president Bill Magness said. Some wind turbine generators were iced, but nearly twice as much power was wiped out at natural gas and coal plants.
Forcing controlled outages was the only way to avert an even more dire blackout in Texas, Magness said.
Republican Gov. Greg Abbott called Tuesday afternoon for an investigation of ERCOT. His indignation struck a much different tone than just a day earlier, when he told Texans that ERCOT was prioritizing residential customers and that power was getting restored to hundreds of thousands of homes.
But hours after those assurances, the number of outages in Texas only rose, at one point exceeding 4 million customers.