Bill Gates: Weatherized energy plants could’ve prevented deaths in Texas winter freeze
Bill Gates on Saturday said that some of the deaths from the severe winter weather that hit Texas could have been prevented by weatherizing energy plants.
In a Saturday evening interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, the billionaire philanthropist argued that natural gas plants in Texas have not been built to withstand extreme weather, leading to millions of people across the state losing power and battling freezing temperatures.
As of Saturday, around 70 people have died in Texas and other states that have been hit by the winter freeze, including victims of car crashes, carbon monoxide poisoning, drownings, house fires and hypothermia, according to The Associated Press.
Abbott has faced criticism for stating that the outages occurred with renewable energy sources, even though officials with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas have said that issues with various sources, particularly natural gas, have contributed to the problem.
“Our wind and our solar got shut down, and they were collectively more than 10 percent of our power grid, and that thrust Texas into a situation where it was lacking power on a statewide basis,” Abbott said earlier in the week during an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity.
Gates a proponent of green energy, pushed back against the assertion.
“This is not because of renewable dependency,” Gates told Cooper Saturday. “This is natural gas plants, largely, that weren’t weatherized. They could’ve been.”
“It costs money, and the trade off was made, and it didn’t work out, and it’s tragic that it has lead to people dying,” he added.
Gates went on to say that climate change could be considered the main cause of extreme weather events, adding that an increased reliance on renewable energy could prevent future disasters similar to the winter storm.
“It is ironic to blame renewables and not realize that we’re going to have to be dealing with this unless we get the whole world to reduce emissions,” Gates said.
Critics have condemned Abbott and Texas’s overall preparedness for the winter storm, with five Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee writing in a letter to the GOP governor on Friday.
“The events of this week demonstrate that there are significant shortcomings in preparations and more must be done to protect communities disproportionately impacted by winter power outages,” they wrote.
The letter was written in response to a report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation that said electricity-generating companies “failed to adequately prepare for winter,” specifically citing inadequate insulation and a failure to train operators and maintenance personnel on winter preparations.