By Richard Golladay
When a new public consciousness emerges which is counter to older, established “norms”, politicians who fail to make the transition are harshly judged, and find themselves seeking new employment. And those politicians who are the most overt in their reaction to paradigm changes will be the first to go
We now have two opposing worldviews in collision in our Texas energy culture: The old established worldview is natural gas/coal fired generation and the companies that operate those assets and supply them with fuel – which entities have been supplying most of our energy for 80 years. These companies are now shaking in their boots as they witness municipalities like Georgetown Texas abandon them entirely for “renewables”. They believe they have everything to lose if this trend extends itself to (heaven forbid) Electric Co-ops. But the specter of “climate change” is looming ever more strongly in the public conscience. (That’s because it’s a fact.) So they enlist professional “debunkers” and politicians to protect themselves. (Witness organizations like ALEC, Americans for Prosperity, Heartland Institute, and Koch Industries.)
The polar opposite “worldview” is that of the radical environmentalist, who believes all fossil fuels should be phased out immediately and replaced by “renewables”, to save the planet.
As I have observed the PEC Board for the last three years, I observe three, and possibly four Directors apparently guided by the old mindset – but none by radical environmentalists.
Could there be a middle position? Most definitely “yes”. What the Georgetown utility has done was to write contracts for “renewables”, but on the ERCOT grid, when the wind is not blowing and the sun is not shining, wholesale power is purchased from whoever is supplying at market value. Having a major utility purchasing 100% renewables 100% of the time is a fantasy. And would such a radical position ever be taken by PEC? Highly unlikely with any Board.
But a polarization nevertheless exists now in a divided PEC Board, with is unhealthy for all of PEC’s members. The four in the former camp are seeking to change voting rules – which if successful, will have no other effect than making life easier for rich elitists. (The Koch bros would love it.) In doing so they could well turn the Co-op from a democracy into an oligarchy. And if they succeed we will eventually have a less robust grid, subject to higher rates if not actual power curtailments, because of a less diverse energy supply.
Someone once said: “It is never right to do wrong to achieve what you think is right”. But apparently operating according to this unhealthy ethic, they are presently so well entrenched and funded there may be no way of stopping them. Their paradigm is eroding, however. Reality has a way of righting wrongs.
The traditional energy companies have many years left to sell their products. For example, electric vehicles will never replace gasoline and diesel vehicles for most transportation and commerce. And natural gas will continue to be the mainstay of our electric grid. O&G is not the bugaboo. Rather, an all-or-nothing domination, mixed with climate change denial and political muscle-man antics is the real bugaboo. That paradigm is a dying mindset, offensive to most Texans, and is in the process of becoming a political corpse.
I hate to see otherwise good people with conservative values commit political suicide by chaining themselves to a corpse. My advice to two particular individuals on this Board: Remember David Dewhurst before it’s too late.
Richard Golladay is a Republican and PEC member living near Marble Falls.