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A View from the Altar / Texas Wind, Act-II
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Texas Wind, Act-II

More blackouts are reportedly on the way to Texas if the weather turns nasty again.

I mentioned previously that the Nation of Texas created a mess with its over-reliance on natural gas and wind power.  There’s another aspect to this that bears mention, and that’s the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT.

ERCOT shows what happens when a quasi-government agency (http://www.ercot.com/about/profile/) sets about to supervise the private sector.

Here’s how the power business is supposed to work.  Customers need energy which the power company has, and the power companies need money which the customers have.  They all settle on so much power for so much money.  The power and the cash then flow, and the engines of private enterprise whir merrily along.  The motive that keeps power reliable for good utilities is that they make money when they sell power.  They make the most money when they sell the most power.  When the lights go off, they make nothing.  And that’s the reason well-managed power companies keep the lights on.

In the case of ERCOT, however, overseers are separated from the profit motive and thus protected from the consequences of foolish decisions.  So this is key: When the lights of Texas go black, nobody at ERCOT loses his job or even suffers diminished cash flow.

Free Americans should also take note of the heavily government-flavored make-up of the ERCOT board.

Jorge Bermudez – banker, economist
Calvin Crowder – economist
Andrew J. Dalton – lawyer
Trip Doggett – engineer with power transmission experience
Mark Dreyfus – degree in public policy, economist
Miguel Espinosa – degree in business
Nick Fehrenbach – degree in business
Sheri Givens – graduate of Houston Law Center
Bob Helton – bachelor’s degree in nuclear science with power production experience
Clifton Karnei – degree in business
Alton D. “Dee” Patton – electrical engineer
Jean Ryall – lawyer, government affairs for ENRON
Barry T. Smitherman – public finance, former prosecutor
Marcie Zlotnik – business degree

To those of you feeling a little defensive about my implied dissing of all the business, economics, and law degrees, don’t be.  Those skills have their place in a free society, and it’s a prominent and important place.  We need businessmen to conduct business and lawyers to practice law, okay?  I have no problem with that.

But the scarcity of engineers on the board (only two) and people with actual power production experience (only one!) should concern everyone in Texas whose lights went out.  Suppose you could assemble a team of the most highly expert electrical engineers on the planet.  Would you hire this team to regulate law firms or investment firms?  Texans, why have you hired a bunch of lawyers and business types to run your power grid?  How wise was that?  Next you’ll be voting for a community organizer to run the whole country.

otherbrothersteve@gmail.com

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