Photo of child outside bundled for cold weather

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God’s blessings, everyone, and I pray you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends.

During my career in the US Army, there were times when we were in some freezing temperatures. I recall doing winter training in the Italian Alps, the Dolomites. There was the time when we were wrapping up a 96-hour company-level patrol mission and we got reports about a blizzard coming. Doggone, I was from Georgia! Then, there was the time we jumped into Germany for a three week training exercise. The doors of the C130 opened and the wind was just frosty, and the ground was covered in snow.

Our family spent eight years in Kansas, and talking about the cold, Angela still remembers when it hit -60 wind chill. The good thing was that we had a very nice fireplace. There were times when Aubrey would say to us, “Mom, Dad, I’m cold.” I would put another log on the fire, make little Aubrey and Austen a bed pallet right in front of the fireplace and they would fall asleep under warm blankets.

For the life of me, I cannot understand folks who say they love cold weather. We spent a beautiful Christmas in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, in 2013. Yes, it was absolutely breathtaking, but thank God we had that really nice fireplace. 

See, when you are a combat troop and on a cold weather training mission you long for that warm cot, beverage, or soup. You know that for the length of that exercise, or deployment into a combat zone, you are going to be cold. And we have a saying, “you embrace the suck.”

However, no one — especially those of us in Texas — should have to “embrace the suck” in their own homes during winter. But, that is exactly what happened this past February.

Imagine your child saying to you “Mom, Dad, I’m cold,” and, sadly, unless you had a fireplace, you had lost power and could not provide that warmth. Imagine being the parents of an 11-year-old boy in Conroe, Texas, and hearing those words. You put blanket upon blanket on your young son, but to no avail. You check on your son to face a grim reality, your son has frozen to death in your home. This is a true story from this past winter storm, and there were a few hundred other Texans who met this same fate. This occurred in a state so richly blessed with energy resources and maintains its very own grid system.

How? How could it be that Texas could come within less than five minutes of a catastrophic energy distribution failure? An utter failure of management. — @AllenWest Click To Tweet

How? How could it be that Texas could come within less than five minutes of a catastrophic energy distribution failure? An utter failure of management.

Texas has put an over reliance on an unreliable source of energy: wind and solar. What should be a distribution plan that is from 3-6 percent was up to 23-25 percent. And, on that fateful Valentine’s Day of 2021, the “green energy” output dropped from 23 percent down to 3 percent. When it was recommended that Texas seek out backup natural gas sources, well, no one had done the requisite winterization and they also failed.

In the aftermath, we came to learn that the Energy Reliability Center of Texas (ERCOT) had members, appointed, that did not even reside in Texas. It was revealed that the appointed members of the Public Utility Commission were absent in providing the necessary oversight to ERCOT. We learned that there were energy companies who were able to make a profit, one to the tune of $2.5 billion while a little 11-year-old boy froze to death. And, the same company provided a $1 million campaign contribution to the current Governor of Texas, who a week prior to the winter storm received an award from a wind energy political action committee (PAC). I wonder if anyone provided any restitution to the families of those who lost loved ones due to freezing to death?

As we are about to enter into winter yet again, the question begs to be answered: have we resolved the issue from this past February? Are we reassessing the energy distribution scheme for wind and solar? Are there plans to look at coal-fired plants, three of which were shut down?

If one does an objective assessment based upon energy PAC donations to politicians, the answer is probably no. And who will bear the burden if that is indeed the case? If we are still over relying on wind and solar energy, above their capability? Are there any penalties for renewables when they do not meet output levels? Have we developed a plan for winterizing natural gas plants, and implementing a system of inspections, with fines and consequences. Why did we not use any of the $16 billion of SB 8 from the federal government for grid hardening, instead of hundreds of millions of dollars to college and university campus construction? Which do you think is more important to Texans? Simple, what are the priorities of elected officials in Austin: building campaign coffers, or keeping Texans safe in their homes?

The 2022 Farmers Almanac advises that we could see another brutal winter here in Texas. The final question is, how many Texas children will look to their moms and dads and say, “I’m cold,” and parents will be “left in the cold” to provide warmth to their kids?

I promise you, under a West administration, Texas will never look the way North Korea does at night from a satellite image.

Steadfast and Loyal,

Lt. Col. Allen B. West (Ret.)

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