On Wednesday, the Southwest Power Pool lowered its emergency alert to Level One.
The pool, which has members from 14 states including Nebraska said while it has enough energy to meet demand, there’s still the possibility of more rotating outages on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Gov. Pete Ricketts once again raised a red flag against renewable energy which he blamed for the outages.
“Clearly we have become too reliant on intermittent sources of energy,” Ricketts said.
Ricketts said wind turbines were either frozen or not producing because of a lack of wind.
And some natural gas pipelines froze affecting some facilities.
“These rolling blackouts are completely unacceptable. This is the United States of America. We are not some developing nation was an unreliable power grid here,” Ricketts said.
Ricketts said Nebraska power companies regularly produce more energy than it consumes.
He credits a mix of coal, nuclear and wind.
Ricketts is concerned there is a national push toward more renewable energy.
“You can just imagine if radical environmentalists, get their way and passed the Clean Power Plan or the Green New Deal that these situations are becoming even more dire. So we have to have a conversation in this country about our energy mix,” Ricketts said.
The leader of the Nebraska Democratic Party said Ricketts was following other Republican talking points
“He’s trying to say because we have wind, therefore that’s why we’re having blackouts with is a flat out lie,” Nebraska Democratic Party Chair Jane Kleeb said.
She said the real culprits are leaders not modernizing the power grid for climate change.
“Extreme weather that we’ve seen right now. Extreme weather that we’ve seen in the past. That is the impact of climate change. So this is not just some unpredictable weather pattern,” Kleeb said.
Southwest Power Pool officials said they planned for lower output of wind energy in the winter and those expectations were met.
Wei Qiao, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Power Systems Laboratory director, believes there were a number of issues at play.
“Renewable energy is only one of the causes of what happened in the last two days,” Qiao said.
Qiao said some of the equipment is old and needs upgrading and power facilities especially in the south were not designed to handle the cold temperatures.
“Maybe in the future, they incorporate scenarios of weather conditions into their emergency management profile,” Qiao said.
Qiao said we also need to address the intermittency of wind and solar through use of storage technology.
But he said that’s costly.
“Definitely we need to improve the technology infrastructure and the operation planning and programs to reduce the possibility of what happened in the last two days,” Qiao said.
Ricketts said we’ve had cold weather before and not had to shut down power on such a large scale.
“What’s new is the rolling blackouts,” Ricketts said.
“And we have to have a serious conversation in this country about the energy mix to make sure this does not happen again,” Ricketts said.
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