Watts Bar Nuclear Power Plant Units 1 & 2 cooling towers and containment buildings. Photo: Tennessee Valley Authority / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

A note to readers: this is an old post on the archive website for Promethean PAC. It was written when we were known as LaRouche PAC, before changing our name to Promethean PAC in April 2024. You can find the latest daily news and updates on www.PrometheanAction.com. Additionally, Promethean PAC has a new website at www.PrometheanPAC.com.

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Whether it’s winter storm freezes or heat waves producing temperatures in the triple digits, how do we ensure that the energy grids are secure, and there is abundant energy and electricity to go around?  Simple answer: Keep the radical environmentalists and greenies out of energy policy and production. We need reliable energy sources, not inefficient renewables. Expand our fossil fuel production here but more importantly, go nuclear!

Over the weekend of December 23-25, Winter Storm Elliot threatened power grids around the country with extremely low temperatures, leaving tens thousands without power and freezing for days on the Christmas weekend. My husband and I recently moved to Northeast Tennessee with our dog Vega. Vega was very excited to play in the yard of her new home and find many parks and trails nearby to explore. We were looking forward to hosting our first Christmas with family in our new home. Winter Storm Elliot changed that. For the first time in nearly ninety years, America's largest government utility, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) implemented rolling blackouts over the Christmas weekend.

But even more disconcerting, just like clockwork, green energy groups launched major attacks on the TVA and started pushing aggressively for more “renewables” to be added to the TVA energy mix. This idiotic plan goes right in line with the Biden collective’s Green New Deal and the World Economic Forum’s push for more inefficient “renewable energy” sources, like wind and solar. Had the TVA generation portfolio been based on more wind and solar, more people throughout the region were sure to have frozen and power would have been out much longer. As an arriving Texan, I can testify to this. Instead, the TVA voted in February 2022, to increase its nuclear portfolio, ensuring reliable electricity in the years to come.

Arriving from Texas to Tennessee we felt a strong sense of Deja vu over the Christmas weekend, with memory flashes of the Texas winter storm Uri from February 2021 beating down our Christmas spirit.  During Uri in Houston, we found ourselves without water for 2 days, and rolling blackouts lasting around 15 minutes every hour for about a day. We were completely relieved that our Christmas in Tennessee was not like that. It certainly could have been if the TVA was following the model of the Electricity Reliability Council of Texas, ERCOT, the organization controlling the Texas electrical grid.

A local news source was told by TVA Chief Operating Officer Don Moul, “The power operator had to reduce strain on the grid as demand for energy ran nearly 35% higher than expected in a normal winter day,” while at the same time a few of its coal and gas energy facilities were down because of freezing temperatures. Unlike Texas, the TVA is a federally owned electric utility corporation in the United States. TVA’s power services territory covers 80,000 square miles, which includes most of Tennessee, parts of Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Virginia. According to its website, TVA provides electricity to approximately ten million people through nuclear, coal, natural gas, hydroelectric, and so-called “renewables” like solar and windmills. 

Unlike Texas, the TVA does not run on an energy market. In addition to this, the TVA’s generation portfolio is 39% nuclear 19% coal 26% natural gas 11% hydro-power and only 3% wind and solar.  Despite the unprecedented demand and rolling blackouts, power was restored quickly. 

In Texas, the 2021 Winter Storm Uri led to days without power, food, water, and devastating loss of lives. Outages at that time were blamed on frozen wind turbines and solar panels in addition to failure to winterize natural gas infrastructure. After the February 2021 Uri freeze, according to ERCOT, the Texas power grid was “seconds or minutes away from” complete failure when partial grid shutdowns were implemented. As the result of this abject failure, ERCOT management was removed and replaced with new management.

But, the February Uri Freeze, although much more dire, was not the first and will not be the last time Texas faced major threats to its grid. It was only a few months later in May and June in the beginning of summer that consumers were being told to conserve energy and keep their thermostats turned up during temperatures that hit triple digits. With this in mind, there was deep fear that the grid was not secure and would be threatened once again when the freezing temperatures hit the state this year during the week before Christmas. This time catastrophe was avoided with a call to all generators to have all hands-on deck with supply. This did nothing to change the fundamentals of energy insecurity in Texas.  Despite some of the richest fossil fuel resources in the world underfoot and some nuclear capacity, Texas increasingly relies on wind and solar power.

In addition, one of the biggest threats to energy production in Texas and the nation was the “deregulation” of electricity in the 1990’s.  In Texas and nationally wherever the company existed, that model was led by the Texas based ENRON corporation. ENRON was a debacle, and so is deregulation. Under deregulation, we reward cheap kilowatts but not reliability, delivered 24/7.

In the aftermath of the Texas Uri winter freeze, my colleague at LaRouche PAC Brian Lantz addressed solutions for increasing power to the grid. In an interview I conducted with him, he called implementing dependable capacity and emphasized the need for restoring public utilities.  He also noted what was obvious: “Wind and solar are not base load capacity.” Texas is also the only state that runs on an energy market, which creates bigger problems, given that generators only get paid when they provide energy, and are not given incentives to keep systems maintained to provide energy at a moment's notice to meet future grid requirements. In Texas, this led to ERCOT paying energy generators at spot market prices and consumers facing enormous unanticipated spikes in their energy bills. 

A capacity market, as found in the utilities system PJM used in the Midwest, poses another kind of threat due to the fact that, (although companies are being paid to be ready with energy supply) generators get lined up to be a part of the Capacity Market through an auction. Companies compete to be signed up to the auction based on providing the cheapest energy, not the most reliable or efficient. This leaves these markets completely vulnerable to mobilizations by the Biden collective and the Greenies for their wind and solar boondoggles.

In the days following winter storm Elliot, Bloomberg issued a report titled ‘Big Growth in Electric Heat Sets Stage for Blackouts in the US South.’ According to the piece, “the number of households using electric heat in Tennessee, North Carolina. and South Carolina increased by about 20% from 2009 to 2020.”  This represented a transition from natural gas over the last decade and these were the states hit hardest by blackouts in the wake of Elliot as millions cranked up their heat while facing temperatures that had plummeted to around 10 degrees.

The answer to this problem lies with expanded nuclear power.  The TVA includes Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant, its first and largest nuclear power plant, with three boiling water reactors, capable of generating around 8,275 Megawatts of electricity each day. Browns Ferry is TVA’s top generating asset. More nuclear power plants and public utilities providing for future energy needs and grid demands will ensure we are never caught off guard and that we will always be able to meet existing energy demands and more.

The LaRouche PAC energy policy for the future is based on expanded nuclear power, fossil fuel, and fusion energy. As Brian Lantz mapped out in a LaRouche PAC interview, 200 1GW  nuclear power plants, along with natural gas and coal, would not only give us an abundant and reliable energy supply.  It will allow us to triple the manufacturing base of the United States.