Left in the dark at Super Bowl
"Dirty" secret: Could more coal-fired power plants have prevented rolling blackouts?
Hoping to watch the Super Bowl on Sunday? Better have a low emissions generator ready.
Be certain that the big game will be played with all lights blazing in Arlington, and our neighbors to the north will likely be watching from the comfort of their well heated homes, if not in full presence at the game itself.
Meanwhile, local Dallas government, including its former mayor, was instrumental in the canceling of eight of 11 new coal fired power plants — the battle which she won handedly with Texas giant utility TXU.
In 2007, in this great red state of Texas, TXU had 11 brand-spanking new coal fired state of the art supercritical pulverized coal plants on the books, to replace existing older (and more pollutive) units with newer, cleaner, more efficient technology. Riding the Al Gore green wave, we all sat by and watched the battle between the environmentalists and the power utility ensue.
Environmental advocates drove the planned plants off the deep end with their "coal is dirty" mantra. The plants were publicly decried as "dirty" and opposers insisted that any new generation have a carbon capture plan to fight global warming. TXU desperately fought the good media fight and lost.
But today we have to ask ourselves who are the real losers?
ERCOT (The Electric Reliability Council of Texas) has dispatched all available power plants to meet the current demand – including natural gas fired peaking units typically reserved for the most dogged days of summer – and still have had to implement rolling blackouts due to the coal plants that were down for scheduled maintenance.
What does this mean for us Houstonians?
Those new plants that were in the plan would have created new base-load power generation (the kind that keeps the lights on in dark days like these) and replaced older, grandfathered dirtier power plants. Doesn’t sound like such a bad thing today, now does it?
So while your praying to the weather gods that you don’t miss the bikini clad Bud girls starring in the famed commercials, remember that our illustrious neighbors to the north, who aptly fought on the side of preventing global warming, are not missing a Super Bowl beat while you are freezing your arse off.
Native Houstonian Carrie Thompson is an energy expert who specializes in coal gasification and clean coal power.