Feb 20, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Houston mayor: Blaming renewables for Texas blackouts "disingenuous"

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. Photo: Thomas Shea/AFP vis Getty Images

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. Photo: Thomas Shea/AFP vis Getty Images

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said Saturday that blaming this week's mass power outages on renewable energy is "disingenuous."

Driving the news: Several Republicans, as well as conservative commentators have falsely blamed wind and solar energy for the blackouts, which left millions of people across Texas in the dark amid frigid temperatures and snow and ice storms.

  • The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (Ercot), which manages the state’s power grid, said in a news conference Tuesday that natural gas, coal and nuclear energy systems were responsible for nearly twice as many outages as renewable sources, per the Dallas Morning News.

What he's saying: “Let me speak specially to legislators and others who are blaming what happened this week on the use of renewables. That is so far-fetched because it wasn’t just the wind turbines that froze; natural gas facilities froze; coal-fired plants froze; nuclear plants came offline and froze,” Turner said.

  • “So, for anybody that attempts to blame what happened this week in Texas on renewables is being totally, totally disingenuous," he added.
  • “The reality is that many of those renewable plants continue to produce energy.”
  • “What is important to bear in mind is that the climate is getting warmer and we have to address the issue of climate change, even in the state of Texas.”
  • "There are structural changes that need to take place, but I simply want to be blunt: Anybody who contends that what happened this week was due to renewable energy, they are trying to deflect where the real responsibility lies.”

Flashback: Tuner announced in April 2020 that the city had committed to purchasing 100% renewable energy.

  • The mayor called the commitment its first step in its goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

The big picture: President Biden on Saturday declared a major disaster in Texas to allow for more federal funds to be spent on relief efforts across the state.

  • While power has been restored to the vast majority of homes and businesses in Texas, tens of thousands are still in the dark, per poweroutage.us.
  • As of Friday, over 13 million Texans still did not have access to drinkable water.
  • At least 16 deaths in the state were linked to the harsh weather as of Thursday.

Go deeper: How Texas' power mix breaks down

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