First, I rarely turn off comments but I am for this post. Please email me. I’d love to hear your thoughts if you care to write. Second, you know I think quite differently than most people. Right or wrong, the entire blog is mostly based on my opinion, as is this post. As you know, I have no say in what happens with the Texas grid, and for the most part, it’s history as far as we are concerned. Vince will be gone soon and I doubt we ever go back to Texas for any reason. I can tell you this power situation has really left me with a bad opinion. It is not because the grid was not winterized. It is because of the way the “rolling blackouts” were handled.
As I mentioned in another post, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Missouri have all been having rolling blackouts. My power was off one night for four hours. Chad, on a completely different provider, had is off one night for four hours. My parents have had theirs off for about six hours . . once. The power grids in the south are all stressed. They aren’t built for the demands they’ve had. This has been unprecedented cold. Will it ever happen again? Will it happen next year? Will it happen in 100 years? No one knows.
As far as ice taking down power lines, that happens. You can’t blame the power companies for that.
The rolling blackouts in Texas were NOT rolling. They parked them over some areas and repeated it over and over. Vince’s power would go off for 13 to 18 hours at a time, come back on for 4 hours and do it again. It wasn’t downed lines. It wasn’t substation issues. It was Oncor deciding who to cut and who to leave on. Vince called them yesterday and was on hold for 55 minutes. After finally talking to someone, his power was back on within 2 minutes and hasn’t been off since. He explained that we use very little power and are sending back more than we use. It made no sense to cut our power. We could have sent back enough power in one sunny day to power two energy efficient houses because that’s how little electricity we use in the winter. That info is provided on our statement every month . . how many houses the power we sent back was able to power.
As far as winterizing natural gas wells/power stations and wind farms, that all costs money to install and maintain, not to mention power to run it. This has never happened in Texas and though everyone is moaning and complaining about “failing to maintain” the grid, the grid was fine . . we had no problems . . til the extreme, unprecedented cold. People need to stop and think . . if you’re paying $250/month for electricity now, are you willing to pay $500 per month EVERY month because everything has to be winterized, and that equipment maintained? Those added costs never go away. Every time a const is added to upgrade, we seem to pay it forever.
You know that I’m a big proponent of self-sufficiency. In today’s age, most of us will never be 100% self-sufficient but most of us can do a heck of a lot better than we do.
You remember when we moved to Texas and it took us forever to find a house and many thought we were being extremely picky. No! We wanted land, we wanted a well so we could supply our own water and not be dependent on any municipality/rural water system and we wanted a fireplace so we could provide heat for our home if needed.
In fact, the water system is down in the area where our house is and Vince has offered for those without wells to come to our house and get water.
Here’s an extremely simple example I’ve used before. If one gallon of milk always lasts us one full week but I make Vince’s favorite chocolate cake, he drinks milk with it and we run out of milk on the 5th day of the week, does that mean I’m horrible at grocery planning? No! It means we had an unforeseen event. It happens.
Another example – every summer when I’m complaining about heat, I get emails from people in Nebraska or New Jersey or somewhere that typically doesn’t get miserably hot and they don’t have central air conditioning. Do I suggest they spend $15,000 and put in a top of the line a/c? No . . most either throw in a window unit or suffer through it. If there’s something you might need once every 30 or 50 years or never and you have to buy it and maintain it and it’s rather expensive, what are you going to do?
There was some group Chad was chatting on yesterday and the people said “This is Texas! We don’t have fireplaces.” Chad’s response was that he grew up in the south and never lived in a house without a fireplace.” He was wrong. ONE time we did and that’s when the ice storm of 1997 hit but we only lived there because I had gone through a divorce and obviously, made another not so great choice.
The people in the group Chad was chatting with said they didn’t even have heavy coats because “This is Texas”. That’s exactly what I’m saying. If the residents don’t see the need to have a fireplace or even a coat, why do they expect everything else to be winterized to accommodate every possible, though extremely unlikely occurrence?
There were so many times, I’d try to convince Vince to do something and he, being a safety manager, would say “The risk doesn’t justify the cost.” One thing was that I wanted to put in an underground tornado shelter and got that cost vs. risk argument. I thought . . if we die, the cost would have been small . . but we didn’t . . but we could have!
I saw an article where police were delivering food to residents who didn’t have food. The power had been off for two days at that point. Yes, if they did’t have food, they needed food, and thank you police officers for doing it, but good grief, don’t be those people! Don’t tell me people can’t afford it. There are resources available to people who need help.
It is my words but Fema has guidelines/recommendations for food and water storage.
We cannot, we should not and the way I see it, we should never have gotten to the point where we think the government or some public entity is going to supply our every need. Yes, these days electricity is essential. People have died because of the power outages in Texas. That’s terrible and I’m very sorry and will never forget how poorly this has been handled. Seeing pictures of cities across Texas with every light on in empty buildings while people are freezing in their homes . . no excuse!
Please do NOT bring up to me that people can’t afford to do better. I know there are some who cannot. As I mentioned, there are resources available for some but . . I know some are going to take this wrong and so be it . . but some have chosen to live the way they live and then demand others cover their every need. We will always need to help the less fortunate but we also need to find a way to help some do better. Many have never learned that they CAN do better.
I’m not bragging on Chad (but I could . . don’t tempt me <G>) but the house he and Nicole bought, apparently at some point, someone had a wood stove in the garage and had cut into the back of the fireplace to vent that stove so Chad was told he couldn’t use the fireplace. He ended up getting a welder to come out and see about fixing it. It wasn’t an inexpensive fix but the guy built some kind of firebox, Chad had it all inspected and he can now use the fireplace. Last weekend when there was lots of snow on the ground, Chad was out cutting wood. Someone had a tree that had been down over a year so it was ready to use and they told Chad he could have it. He said he had plenty of firewood but he’d never turn down free firewood and he was afraid if he waited til the weather was better, someone else would have gotten it.
That’s the kind of hard work we need to do when we have to in order to take care of ourselves. Yes, he has central heat but he knew there was the real possibility he could lose power . . and he did. It was about 2 a.m. when his power went off and he immediately crawled out of his warm bed and built a fire in the fireplace.
The point of this post is this: It would be nice if the Texas power grid had stayed intact but no one who is not involved with the decision making and planning can say what needs to be done. We know what we wish would have happened but it didn’t and, like I said . . we won’t be the ones paying higher electric bills there but . . be careful what you ask for.