Once unthinkable, they became a reality when the polar vortex hit this week. OG&E and other electric supplies had to deliberately shut down power to people in order to preserve the system for all. Although they were short-lived in Oklahoma, the blackouts caused issues for thousands of people for short time and sparked a lot of comments about how we ended up in the situation we faced.
The biggest issue was the weather. The historic and drawn-out cold temperatures caused problems across a wide area of the country at the same time.
What was exposed was the lack of preparation and the vulnerability of our system.
It also underscores the need for an infrastructure upgrade in this country, including the power grid, our water and sewage system and always our roads and bridges. The vulnerability of our water and sewage system was exposed in Florida right before the Super Bowl when a hacker breached a local water system and tried to poison the drinking water, only to be foiled by sharp-eyed, quick acting employee.
With respect to the electrical problems faced in Oklahoma and Texas, in particular, the issues point out that we can’t take oil and gas development in this country for granted. It takes energy to produce electricity.
Oil and gas remain the most reliable energy source we have. During the recent cold spell, wind power production was diminished when turbines froze in the cold.
We need national leaders who will acknowledge oil and gas must be part of our country’s near-term energy mix. Policies that demonize oil, natural gas and the people working in the industry are not only unhelpful, they do nothing to provide safe, affordable and reliable energy.
We hope the troubles we’ve seen the past couple of weeks serve as a wakeup call.