A Quick Opinion: Are we in better shape than Texas?

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A Winters Express op-ed column

By Charley Wallace It might be easy to poke fun of Texas’ utility breakdown last week, especially after they badmouthed us last summer, but we shouldn’t be too smug. Texas thinks it is better to have a stand alone electric grid system and lets their utilities decide on how much maintenance to do. They don’t believe in regulation or having to rely on the federal government, unless they want the rest of us to bail them out of their current situation. We might be in better shape with regulation and a shared power grid, but we still rely on Pacific Gas and Electric to maintain our local power lines and infrastructure. Those are the same power lines that keep failing, causing wild fires that consume a large number of homes/structures nearly every summer, and natural gas lines that blew up San Bruno a few years ago. The City of Winters hasn’t been tested, lately, with long power outages, but we do have generators on our water and sewer plants that seem to work. It is one thing to be out of power for a few days, but Texas not only experienced a long electrical and gas outage, they lost their water supply. Reading about Texas’ problems, there are a lot of places to place the blame, but no one is taking responsibility for the catastrophic breakdown. I have cousins in Texas, both Democrats and Republicans, and they need to decide who to blame and vote accordingly. They pride themselves on being independent, but they have to admit that they need help to prevent this from happening again. I would start with the person in charge of their power grid and work down from there. It is easier to fire the boss than it is to fire a politician, but that has to change, not only in Texas but in California as well. California has gone through this before with Governor Gray Davis paying the price by being recalled and replaced with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Our energy problems didn’t go away, but the grid was expanded and now most of the West Coast can trade power between the states. We still have work to do, but we are way ahead of Texas when it comes to our power supply. The price gouging that we experienced in 2003 is now happening in Texas. I see regulation in their future, if only to keep prices from soaring 1,000 percent. I’m a believer in green power: solar, wind and hydroelectric. What we need to be working on is storage, whether that be in dams or batteries. All the best dam sites have already been taken, so we need to let technology show us the way to build a better battery storage facility. If they can get an electric car to travel over 300 miles on a single charge, we can figure out how to store enough electricity to keep our lights on. I wonder what all of those Californians who moved to Texas are thinking about our over-regulated society, now? Take a drive around the countryside, smell the almond blossoms and have a good week.

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