Above, Texas Blackout synopsis from PBS Nova. Confirms the events reported here, as well as the 130 billion dollar cost figure that I have seen elsewhere – which, if true, makes this the costliest weather disaster in US history.

Big question has been, how to prevent this from happening again, and who should pay.

One early proposal would have ratepayers spring for a fleet of new gas turbines with onsite fuel storage – to be used only in emergencies. Not surprising that this might have some attraction for oil/gas proponents in the state – however, with the announcement that Tesla has a 100 MWhr Li-on battery installation nearly completed, I will be watching with interest to see if the gas proposal gets traction.

A system of “emergency only” gas plants would be fantastically expensive per MWhr, as they would be “peakers” that would only see service in times of huge demand.
Li-on battery installations can make big money by providing grid services right from the start, and pay back their own capital costs in very short order, which would seem to make them a natural solution to the problem in a supposed “free market” based grid structure.

I’d bet the batteries are going to be built anyway, but interesting to see if the legislature saddles rate-payers with costs of a new gas system.

Texas Tribune:

As the Texas Legislature debated how to respond to last month’s winter storm-driven power crisis, executives at billionaire Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Energy were pitching lawmakers an idea: The group would spend over $8 billion to build 10 new natural gas power plants in the state. Lawmakers would agree to create a revenue stream to provide Berkshire a return on its investment through an additional charge on Texans’ power bills.

Representatives for Berkshire Hathaway Energy have been in Austin meeting with lawmakers and state leaders for the past week and a half, according to a person working closely on the issue.

The proposed company, which would likely be known as the Texas Emergency Power Reserve, would build and maintain plants that sit idle during normal times, according to a slide deck obtained by The Texas Tribune. Whenever demand for power in the state threatened to surpass supply, these new plants would kick in to make up the difference, if ordered to do so by the state’s grid operator.

“When you flip that switch and say, look, demand has exceeded supply, it has to come on in 10 minutes,” Chris Brown, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Energy, said in an interview Thursday with the Tribune. “That’s the Texas Emergency Power Reserve promise — that’s the promise that we’re making to the citizens of Texas.”


Former anti-vax influencer on the “cool and special” feeling that you know more than all the world’s best scientists.

Jesus would puke.


Five years ago, at the dawn of the Trump era, few national observers were focused on the role of the Council for National Policy. That was not a coincidence; over the past four decades, this coalition of Christian nationalists and fossil fuel interests has deliberately kept a low public profile, maintaining both its meetings and its membership under a veil of secrecy. Although it is registered with the IRS as a tax-exempt “educational” organization, it has advanced an unapologetically partisan agenda, promoting Republican candidates from the radical right and purging moderates. Key to its success is the expansion of its information ecosystem, composed of fundamentalist broadcasting outlets and myriad digital platforms. Often masquerading as “news” outlets, these organizations have served as vehicles for partisan propaganda and dangerous disinformation, including the ongoing hydroxychloroquine hoax claiming that the drug cures COVID-19.

Even Washington insiders who were familiar with the CNP often discounted its influence. As of 2020 this was no longer possible. CNP affiliates played an outsized role in helping Trump win the 2016 election (as documented in my book Shadow Network), offering his campaign the money, the strategy, and the ground troops his primitive operation lacked—enhanced by state-of-the-art digital campaign tools and the Koch Brothers’ i360 data platform. The CNP went on to reap the benefits: CNP’s then-president Tony Perkins, became a regular visitor to the Oval Office, where he successfully lobbied to restrict the civil rights of LGBTQ populations. Trump granted a day of exclusive coverage at the White House to Salem Media, co-founded by another former president of the CNP. CNP leadership pushed the nominations of right-wing federal judges, and turned out in force for the Rose Garden super-spreader event to celebrate the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett

In early 2020, CNP members had every reason to feel confident of Trump’s reelection, based on strong economic indicators and a contentious Democratic opposition. Then COVID-19 struck. For the next ten months, the CNP and its partner organizations supported Trump’s increasingly desperate attempts to remain in office. CNP Gold Circle member Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of the Koch Brothers’ Tea Party Patriots, orchestrated the promotion of the hydroxychloroquine hoax, designed to reopen the country in time to benefit Trump’s campaign rallies. A steep price was paid, by both gullible followers and patients with auto-immune diseases who had a legitimate need for the drug.

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A big part of the energy transition will be to move renewable energy from where it is plentiful to where it is needed.

I’ve posted before about the obstacles to getting more transmission on the grid, which, during the previous administration, included simply thuggish behavior by by the coal lobbyists who had been installed in key agencies, specifically to hobble renewables.

But the biggest problem has likely been the simple political and regulatory obstacles of trying to site big overhead transmission lines running across a number of states, counties, and municipalities.
What if you could run lines underground, using existing rail and road right of ways, to cut thru the obstacles?

Undergrounding lines has been historically expensive, but one company claims to have solved the problem, and is working on a project that could, if successful, alter the landscape of energy, while leaving the actual landscape unchanged.


Today we’re going to look at a clever idea for bypassing many of those problems, namely, stitching together a national power grid by burying power lines along existing rail and road infrastructure, where rights-of-way are already established, thus eliminating the endless haggling with local governments and landowners. 

The idea has been gaining steam in the policy community for the last few years. FERC issued a report in June on challenges to transmission; siting along existing infrastructure was cited as a promising solution. In his Build Back Better plan, Biden promised to “take advantage of existing rights-of-way — along roads and railways — and cut red-tape to promote faster and easier [transmission] permitting.” This op-ed in The Hill sums up the benefits quite nicely, both of a national grid and of building it without siting battles. 

The vision is taking hold. And at least one small piece of that vision has gone beyond speculation into an actual permitting process.

A company called Direct Connect is currently in the development and permitting phase of a privately financed, $2.5 billion project called the SOO Green HVDC Link, a proposed 349-mile, 2.1-gigawatt (!), 525-kilovolt transmission line to run underground along existing railroad from Mason City, Iowa, to the Chicago, Illinois, area. It aims to go into operation in 2024.

Going underground will allow the line to minimize environmental and visual impact. It will be much more resilient than an overhead line against weather, temperature shifts, sabotage, or squirrels

Two side-by-side cables will run through tubes of Cross-Linked Polyethylene (XLPE) and will be self-contained, lightweight, and easy to handle. They won’t get hot, interfere with signaling equipment (unlike AC lines), or affect rail operations. There are fiber-optic sensors along the lines to monitor sound and heat for any problems. 

(Nemo Link, the world’s first 400 kilovolt line using XLPE, runs undersea between the UK and Belgium; it began operation in January 2019.)

Running alongside the railroad means SOO Green will have no need to claim land via eminent domain. Almost all of that railroad is owned by Canadian Pacific (one of seven large “class one” railroads in the US), so there are a tractable number of parties to deal with.

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From an engineering perspective (simplified) – basically adds detail to the understanding I’ve gotten from many informed observers.

More from my interview with Emily Atkin, who plays an important role in the upcoming Yale vid.

Not everyone has a roof, but they can still take advantage of solar energy.

I’ve spent a lot of time since the January 6 insurrection thinking about how 30 years of high budget, psychological warfare on climate science has degraded our national conversation, and people’s ability to tell truth from falsehood.

Working on a Yale Video on that topic now.

Amy Westervelt is a climate journalist, produces the Drilled podcast, and has done some deep dives on fossil fuel’s psychological warfare programs. We had a wide ranging conversation, so look for more clips soon.

My take is that the fossil fuel funded war on science and fact is not something that can be kept within the boundaries of a climate debate, or a tobacco, or corona virus debate – the anti-science complex is like a virus itself, that has escaped from the lab.

What got me thinking about it – following last night’s shooting in Boulder, the conspiracy mill is already theorizing that the whole thing was a “false flag”, and the dead people are crisis actors.


Almost immediately after the mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado, was reported, some of the most popular and influential QAnon figures began pushing false claims that the attack was a “false flag” and no one had actually died.

Rather than express empathy for the victims of the attack, supporters of QAnon, who have no issue believing there exists a cabal of cannibalistic pedophiles, instead declared that the media reports and statements from the police were all false and that there is no way yet another mass shooting could have occurred in the U.S.

“No question Boulder, Co incident today was a false flag. The only question is by which side?,” one QAnon profile, who has more than 260,000 subscribers on Telegram, wrote. “False flag means it’s fake. Nobody actually died.