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Letters to the editor

February 20, 2021 at 1:00 a.m.

Lessons to be learned in Texas' power woes

The news is filled with assertions that the Texas power outage was caused by either failure of wind power or by failure of fossil fuel power. In truth, both were to blame. There is a lesson here for Arkansas and other states.

From Feb. 4-8, Texas' power usage was steady at about 40 gigawatt-hours, with wind supplying between one-third and one-half of that, gas supplying a similar amount, and coal plus nuclear supplying about 15 gigawatt-hours. (Power sources often vary on an hourly basis.)

On Feb. 8-9, the cold front began moving into West Texas, bringing ice and snow. Between Feb. 8 and Feb. 15, Texas power demand increased 50%, to about 60 gigawatt-hours. As wind turbines suffered from decreasing wind and as freezing ice stopped some of them, Texas wind power dropped by half or more. To compensate, Texas gas power plants increased their output by more than a factor of two, and over Feb 12-15 were generating about 40 gigawatt-hours. Texas coal and nuclear power remained constant.

On Feb. 15, the Electronic Reliability Council of Texas power grid began to fail, and power generation dropped below demand. Rolling blackouts became necessary. In addition to a decrease in gas power, coal and nuclear power also dropped, and wind power remained very low. Power failure in gas may have been related to the large, sudden demand put upon it, and the decrease in some coal and nuclear power may have occurred because cold and ice/snow produced failure in components.

The message to be learned here is that wind power (also solar power) can greatly decrease or even fail at unpredictable times. During those times, a state needs to have other, reliable power sources ready to take over. Texas has just learned this lesson the hard way. A decrease in available power just when power demand increases can be the perfect storm.

Donald Bogard

Bentonville

Justices reject measures to aid their constituents

The ordinance at the Washington County Quorum Court would have established minimum housing standards for rental units, things like working smoke alarms and running water. It failed, 6-9.

That's right. Nine people who regularly pray "give us this day our daily bread" at the start of each meeting don't think landlords should be expected to guarantee that children and families have smoke alarms and running water.

The ordinance to use most of the $4.5 million in CARES Act money for community health, small business assistance, and homelessness prevention failed 5-9. It will come up again on the agenda next month.

Our county justices of the peace are obstructing the use of funds designated for relief during a pandemic. And they voted this way during deep-freezing weather and snow.

Many of the laws of ancient Israel included in Scriptures focused on ownership and property rights, and the prophets warned property owners and officials who abused people through poor stewardship that they were stealing from them. Consider Hosea 12:7: "A trader in whose hand are false balances, he loves to oppress."

Perhaps the most pointed of these prophetic statements comes from Haggai, who asks, "Is it a time for you yourselves to live in paneled houses, while this house lies in ruin?" (1:4)

That's an excellent question indeed, and it is the one we now bring before Washington County constituents and the Quorum Court. Is it a time for you to live in your paneled houses, while Washington County remains one of the very few places in our whole nation that allows landlords to leave their renters' houses lying in ruin?

Clint Schnekloth

Fayetteville

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