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Negligent Homicide in Texas

Although the failure of wind turbines and solar panels has dominated much of the discussion around Texas’ current power crisis, the story is more involved than ideologically-positioned news show hosts can comprehend. All forms of electricity generation and distribution have been affected by the widespread severe cold, including gas and oil.

Electricity distribution in Texas is not regulated and operates entirely by private entities brokering the exchange of electricity. Additionally, Texas operates its grid as an island; it cannot ship excess production to other states nor – more importantly – import electricity from other states on demand.

Due to profit constraints, power generation and transmission facilities have not been hardened against extreme weather, nor is the reserve margin (capacity above peak load) adequate to mitigate such weather eventualities.

As a result of the widespread power generation and transmission failures, grid isolation, and free market forces, electricity prices have spiked from $40 per megawatt hour to $9,000/MWH – a spike that will be passed on to consumers in the de-regulated system.

Far from being an argument against alternative energy, the situation in Texas is a case study for the public regulation of vital services.