As some conservatives blame the environmental movement and frozen wind turbines for the power outage disaster in Texas, it's a cold reminder that the path to clean American energy is blocked more by ideology than technology.
Since wind accounts for a tenth of the Lone Star state's winter power and the Permian Basin leaks and flares enough natural gas to heat two million homes a year, it's a bit like blaming your car battery for a stalled engine when you've run out of gas.
“Texans would be without electricity for longer than three days to keep the federal government out of their business,” former Governor and Energy Secretary Rick Perry said in an interview posted on House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy's website.
While properly engineered turbines have been proven to work from Alaska to Antarctica, many in Texas did freeze up. But so did pipelines, diesel engines and even the reactor at one of the state's two nuclear power plants.
In typical "Don't Mess with Texas" fashion, the state has its own power grid on purpose, which is a major impediment to creating a national "smart grid," in which a sunny day in Arizona could power primetime in Boston and vice versa.
And like California, there is no financial incentive for power companies to fortify their equipment. It's a Wild West free market, where the wholesale price of electricity went from $22 a megawatt-hour to more than $8,000 when demand spiked — a swing so extreme, some power companies were encouraging customers to sign up with someone else.
Meanwhile El Paso, a city outside the western boundaries of the Texas grid, not only has a lifeline to the Western US grid, it also had the sense to winterize its power plants after a deep freeze in 2011. They experienced minimal outages this time, only lasting minutes for a few thousand, despite seeing similar temps and weather to the rest of the state.