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DONNIE JOHNSTON: Heat now on Cruz could have helped melt Texas ice

DONNIE JOHNSTON: Heat now on Cruz could have helped melt Texas ice

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SUPPOSE you owned a small restaurant that seated about 50 people and one day 2,000 customers arrived and demanded to be served.

You tell them that you just can’t accommodate that many, and that in all the years you’ve been in business you’ve never even had your restaurant completely full.

They don’t understand and want to tear down your building because you won’t serve them. You’re to blame because you didn’t build a big enough restaurant. The fact that too many customers just happened to show up never enters their mind.

That’s a pretty good analogy of what happened in Texas last week. That state, especially South Texas, is known for mild winters, so when an almost unprecedented shot of Arctic air plunged down from Canada, Texans turned their heat up and overloaded the state’s electrical grid.

The result was that millions lost power and ended up in the cold and dark.

Now everyone in the Lone Star State wants to play the blame game. Somebody has to be at fault. Somebody has to get fired because the power grid couldn’t handle the overload.

You could start with Canada. That’s where the cold air came from. And you could blame California, because that where the moisture that locked everything in ice originated.

Or you could blame God for sending the cold and ice.

The simple truth is that South Texas is just not prepared for that kind of weather. I have a friend whose grandchildren were swimming in their pool near Fort Worth in late January. South Texas very seldom gets Arctic blasts of that magnitude.

I’m sure there have been a few times during its history when things got this cold, but there were not that many homes to heat in Texas 50 or 60 years ago. People then were also more self-reliant and prepared. Today things are different. If you live in a high-rise apartment, you just can’t go out to the back 40 and cut firewood.

Snow on the Galveston beaches. Sailboats completely encrusted in ice. Temperatures in the teens in Northern Mexico. How often does cold like this happen? The Texas power grid just wasn’t prepared.

Well, it should have been. The power companies should have spent $1 billion upgrading the system, which of course would necessitate a rate increase. Have you ever been to a public hearing when a power company asked for a rate increase? People scream bloody murder.

And the first words out of everyone’s mouth would have been, “It never gets cold enough down here to use all that electricity. That’s overkill. You just want to take our money.”

Then there was this big controversy over Sen. Ted Cruz heading down to Cancun to get away from the ice and cold. Critics, some of whom are now calling for him to resign, say he should have stayed and helped with the situation.

By doing what? Cruz is no electrical expert. Did his constituents expect him to climb atop electric poles and chip off the ice or go into power plants and tell experts how to do their jobs?

Come on, guys! Cruz is not one of my favorite people, but to beat up on him for this reason is insane. Listen, any of his critics who could have made it to Cancun would have done the same thing.

No, what his critics wanted was to see Cruz miserable like everyone else. It is like calling a Fredericksburg snowbird a horrible person for going to Florida to escape the Virginia cold.

“You should stay right here and be miserable with the rest of us. You have no right to be warm when we are cold.”

Make no mistake. Texans had it tough. I know of one person who ran out of firewood and went to Lowe’s and bought 2-by-4s to burn in his fireplace, which he was lucky enough to have. The cost resulting from burst pipes and other cold-related damage will be staggering.

One other point of note. Much has been made of the fact that wind turbines froze during the ice and cold. If you’ll check, you’ll find that turbines generate only a small fraction of Texas’ power, so it wasn’t a big deal.

Coal-powered plants could have produced 20 times the electricity of turbines, but they are politically incorrect.

We don’t want coal plants, we are not allowed to build any more nuclear plants and turbines make a negligible difference.

So how will Texans upgrade their electrical grid?

Maybe Ted Cruz running on a very large hamster wheel might prove to be the answer.

Donnie Johnston:

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