Another Winter Storm Shows Solar’s Value
February 15, 2023
By Bret Biggart
Two weeks ago, a devastating ice storm knocked out electricity across Austin and Central Texas. It took until this weekend for power to be fully restored.
And this week, Texas will mark the second anniversary of Winter Storm Uri and the excruciating statewide blackouts that are still reverberating across the state and in state government.
The causes of the two catastrophes were very different — in 2021, bitter cold froze large-scale gas infrastructure and power plants, whereas 2023’s outages were driven by ice-coated branches falling off trees and knocking out electricity lines.
But the suffering Texans experienced was identical: a loss of power during a cold snap, forcing people to shiver through dark, cold nights or to go seek shelter. This great Texas Monthly piece, aptly titled “We Texans Are on Our Own When Disasters Hit,” shows the helplessness that Texans have been facing far too much lately when extreme weather hits.
Freedom Solar’s mission is to help people to live more powerfully — in part by empowering them to protect themselves, and their families and businesses, from these crises.
Just in the last few days, we’ve heard more and more stories of our customers with home solar installations and energy storage units after the 2021 blackouts.
These systems became especially critical this winter, as temperatures and ice started to fall. When lines went down and power went out in customers’ neighborhoods, they switched to their home batteries, which had been fully charged by the previous days’ sunshine.
The batteries kept people’s lights on and heaters running. Many hosted friends to warm up and charge devices while they all waited for power to be restored.
That’s what living more powerfully means. It’s knowing that you’re free and safe, both from the reliability issues confronting the power grid, and from high bills that are driven even higher by the volatility of fuel prices and the costs of previous disasters.
There’s no question that Texas’ electricity system needs help. As I’ve written before, Texas needs to do more to rethink its power policies from the perspective of everyday Texans. The state must focus on improvements that are centered on people. That means keeping power flowing on days when electricity infrastructure is stretched and helping people save on fast-rising power bills year-round.
This ice storm, like Winter Storm Uri, demonstrates how rooftop solar and storage systems, community-scale projects, and other forms of distributed energy generation must be part of the solution.
These systems help people weather these storms — more Texans need access to them.