Texas blackouts fuel false claims about renewable energy

Power lines are shown Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021, in Houston. More than 4 million people in Texas still had no power a full day after historic snowfall and single-digit temperatures created a surge of demand for electricity to warm up homes unaccustomed to such extreme lows, buckling the state's power grid and causing widespread blackouts. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Power lines are shown Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021, in Houston. More than 4 million people in Texas still had no power a full day after historic snowfall and single-digit temperatures created a surge of demand for electricity to warm up homes unaccustomed to such extreme lows, buckling the state's power grid and causing widespread blackouts. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

With millions of Texas residents still without power amid frigid temperatures, conservative commentators have falsely claimed that wind turbines and solar energy were primarily to blame.

“We should never build another wind turbine in Texas,” read a Tuesday Facebook post from Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller. “The experiment failed big time.”

“This is a perfect example of the need for reliable energy sources like natural gas & coal,” tweeted U.S. Sen. Steve Daines, a Republican from Montana, on Tuesday.

In reality, failures in natural gas, coal and nuclear energy systems were responsible for nearly twice as many outages as frozen wind turbines and solar panels, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which operates the state’s power grid, said in a press conference Tuesday.

Still a variety of misleading claims spread on social media around renewable energy, with wind turbines and the Green New Deal getting much of the attention.

A viral photo of a helicopter de-icing a wind turbine was shared with claims it showed a “chemical” solution being applied to one of the massive wind generators in Texas. The only problem? The photo was taken in Sweden years ago, not in the U.S. in 2021. The helicopter sprayed hot water onto the wind turbine, not chemicals.

Other social media users, including Republican U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado, puzzlingly labeled the Green New Deal as the culprit. Boebert tweeted on Monday that the proposal was “proven unsustainable as renewables are clearly unreliable.”

But the Green New Deal is irrelevant, as no version of it exists in Texas or nationwide, said Mark Jacobson, director of the Atmosphere/Energy Program and professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University.