TX and CA: Canaries in the Coal Mine

TX and CA: Canaries in the Coal Mine

Independent system operators in Texas, i.e, ERCOT, and California, i.e., CAISO, have both recently issued warnings that increased demand for electricity could cause blackouts.

Texas experienced devastating blackouts in February, while California experienced blackouts last year.

Both are now blaming heat waves for their problems and have issued warnings about new blackouts.

But, it’s not the heat waves that are causing their problems, it’s bad policies.

These bad policies are the same that other RTO/ISOs are imposing on their systems, which endangers all Americans served by RTO/ISOs. Two-thirds of Americans are covered by RTO/ISOs, while one-third are in areas administered, as in the past, by state regulators. RTO/ISOs were established beginning in 2000.

Regional Transmission Organization (RTO) or Independent System Operator (RTO/ISO)
Map showing areas administered by RTO/ISOs

Texas and California are unintentionally warning the rest of the country that policies imposed by RTO/ISOs are a threat to safe and reliable supplies of electricity. 

The basic problem is that ERCOT, in Texas, and CAISO, in California, have instituted policies that require investing in wind and solar, rather than in baseload power using natural gas, nuclear or coal.

Wind and solar are unreliable and cannot, even with battery backup, guarantee an uninterruptible, safe supply of electricity. 

Former, Energy Secretary, Moniz, (Obama administration) in his Washington Post, March 21, 2021, interview, said “Batteries would never be a solution for storage.” 

Potential shortages of hydropower are compounding the lack of baseload power in California.


CAISO has been relying on electricity imported from surrounding states to cover California’s shortfall of baseload power, and is now complaining that these surrounding states are using the power for their own citizens.

In essence, CAISO has been expecting surrounding states to invest in baseload power so that California could institute policies that cut CO2 emissions.

CAISO has been calling for the closure of natural gas power plants while also forcing the premature closure of nuclear power plants. 

  • The San Onofre nuclear power plant was closed in 2013, and Diablo units 1 and 2, the last two nuclear power plants in California, are scheduled for closure in 2024 and 2025.

CAISO has been relying on solar and wind to supply California with electricity, with the objective of achieving 100% net zero CO2 emissions by 2050.


ERCOT has failed to build baseload power plants, while building large amounts of wind power instead. This past week it said hot weather could result in less power from wind installations, and that baseload plants were unexpectedly off-line.

To prevent blackouts, ERCOT asked people to lower demand by adjusting thermostats upward to reduce their use of Air-conditioning.

The blackouts in February demonstrated that ERCOT was short about 10,000 MW of baseload power. 

  • The peak demand prior to this year was in 2018, where the peak demand was 72,192 MW
  • If ERCOT had followed its past practice of having a reserve margin of 14%, the added baseload power would have been around 10,000 MW.

The fact is, ERCOT is still short 10,000 MW of baseload capacity.

Other RTO/ISOs

Other RTO/ISOs have established rigged auctions to force wind and solar onto their systems, which has also resulted in the closing of nuclear power plants. 

Capacity auctions are supposed to ensure reliable future capacity, but RTO/ISOs are attempting to allow wind and solar to be included in capacity auctions which threatens grid reliability. Wind and solar cannot be relied on to provide guaranteed capacity, even with battery storage.


Texas and California have demonstrated that their policies are leading to blackouts. Their policies force wind and solar onto the grid, and result in the closure of nuclear and natural gas power plants.

These same policies threaten Americans who live in areas covered by other RTO/ISOs.

There are only two books that describe how the grid is being manipulated, and how RTO/ISO policies are harming Americans.

Both are available from Amazon.

  • The Looming Energy Crisis, Are Blackouts Inevitable?, by Donn Dears
  • Shorting the Grid, by Meredith Angwin

Either is a must read for anyone wanting to understand how the grid is being manipulated to accommodate a net zero carbon agenda.

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3 Replies to “TX and CA: Canaries in the Coal Mine”

  1. Thanks for clearing the propaganda smoke and exposing reality behind CO2 hysteria. CO2 is the gas of life for humans — we are after all carbon-based life-forms. Put another way … CO2 is the God molecule — without it we all perish.

  2. Donn,

    Excellent post. Summer happens every year, but it’s only an electricity crisis in the RTO areas.
    Also, thanks for the shout-out for my book! I hope everyone who reads this buys both our books! As you said…there are no other books out there about how the RTO systems of our grid are mismanaged. And the problem is too big to be swept under the rug.