• Randy Haymaker

All Eggs in One Basket?

From Randy Haymaker, Hoosiers for Renewables Advisory Council member, and retired electric utility executive.


The news out of Texas this week is scary – ice and unprecedented cold weather are freezing gas and oil wells, power plant equipment, reducing fuel supplies and causing power outages. All of this is happening while demand for electricity surges during a winter storm that is gripping most of the country.


According to experts, the cause of the crisis is two-fold: incredibly high levels of demand for heat while at the same time the extreme weather is seriously harming the supply of electric generation from ALL sources – including natural gas, oil, propane, wind, and more.

Some are suggesting that renewables are to blame for the rolling blackouts that are affecting energy customers in Texas and surrounding states. But nothing could be farther from the truth. According to experts, the cause of the crisis is two-fold: incredibly high levels of demand for heat while at the same time the extreme weather is seriously harming the supply of electric generation from ALL sources – including natural gas, oil, propane, wind, and more. But data from the electric grid operator shows that generation from wind farms was actually exceeding forecasts in the days leading up the storm, and it is particularly natural gas power plants that are the majority of generators shut down.


We can’t put all of our eggs in one basket, of course. That’s why natural gas, coal, wind power and solar energy all provide electricity to Hoosier homes. And we should support continued efforts to make sure that we’re not too dependent on any one source.

Texas depends on natural gas, and today much of that gas is a byproduct of oil production as they are intermixed. Since oil production is frozen, there is little gas. The pipelines are not buried deep enough in Texas and natural gas plants are not winterized as they are in Indiana.

Indiana is weathering this storm fairly well, so far. Energy planners know that they need to rely on a solid mix of electricity generation sources. We can’t put all of our eggs in one basket, of course. That’s why natural gas, coal, wind power and solar energy all provide electricity to Hoosier homes. And we should support continued efforts to make sure that we’re not too dependent on any one source.


Of course, Indiana is not immune to severe weather. We had issues back in 1998 when tornadoes took our power lines and the price of electricity skyrocketed. A heatwave in 2003 made power lines droop and cause fires. Since then, a regional power monitoring service, MISO (our regional transmission operator), was developed to properly balance electricity generation and transmission with demand in the Middle of the U.S. and parts of Canada.

We should learn from these severe weather events and continue to do what we can to diversify our electric grid and build up resiliency to withstand major disruptions. But we shouldn’t rush to judgement about problems in Texas or any other region and try to forecast doom in Indiana. We are very different with a vastly different generation mix and energy market structure. To meet the demands placed on our energy grid, we need it all – wind, coal, natural gas, nuclear, solar, and more – and we need smart forecasting and planning, which we’ve got in MISO.


So, don’t rush to judgement about Texas. Rather, let’s learn from the experience so that our electricity can continue to be delivered reliably and affordably with the lowest possible carbon emissions.

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