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What Caused The Texas Energy Crisis?

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Questions arise regarding the failure of the Texas power grid as the state continues to recover from a historic winter storm.

The Current Texas Crisis

New reports from the Texas Tribune on Friday suggest that the state was “Seconds and minutes” away from a “catastrophic” blackout that could have lasted months if grid operators did not take action to stop a massive drop in energy supply.

Unseasonably cold temperatures knocked natural gas and coal plants offline as well as froze wind turbines. As a result, operators had to resort to rolling blackouts to stop the surge in demand from overwhelming its circuits.

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Several factors have been blamed for the sudden and severe energy crisis, with fossil-fuel proponents blaming frozen wind turbines and other alternative energy that was frozen over, BBC suggested. Others such as the New York Times have blamed natural gas pipes freezing and pointing responsibility on to Texas Governor Greg Abbott.

However, there has been one component of the U.S. power grid that has not been looked into: The equipment itself.

China And The Electrical Grid

An April 2014 report from the Department of Energy found that there were only six domestic manufacturers of power equipment in the United States, while China had 30 manufacturers.

Several Chinese-based companies, such as HICO and Siemens, have plants that export transformers to several countries. The report further suggested that the actual production of U.S.-built transformers was less than a fifth of China’s production.

The report showed that the U.S. has become dependent on foreign-made transformers to maintain capability of the power grid.

“In 2010, only 15 percent of the Nation’s demand for power transformers…was met through domestic production,” the report concluded.

In 2019, deputy director of counterintelligence at the DOE said that “There have been over 200 Chinese transformers that have come into the U.S. energy sector in the last ten years,” according to RealClearEnergy, highlighting the country’s dependence on energy.

One of the companies who makes these transformers, JiangSu HuaPeng Transformer Co., recently finished projects in Houston. The city was among the hardest hit in the recent energy crisis.

Trump’s Executive Order

On May 1, 2020, then-President Donald Trump signed an executive order that essentially made the U.S> power grid “America First” by allowing the Secretaries of Defense, Interior and Homeland Security along with the Director of National intelligence to identify equipment that was designed and owned by foreign jurisdictions, including China.

The E.O. aimed to prevent future transactions regarding the supplementation or manufacturing of any equipment that under “foreign adversary control.”

“The transaction…poses and undue risk of sabotage to or subversion of the design, integrity…or manufacturing of the bulk-power system in the United States.” The E.O. read in part.

The order would allow the appropriate departments to “identify” the equipment and “isolate or monitor” their behavior. A task force also formed to focus on vulnerabilities and procurement of the power system of the U.S.

The order may have stemmed from a report regarding the “Electric Panda” hacking group. POLITICO reported that the group had targeted 40 U.S. contracting facilities that specialize in numerous fields.

The U.S. energy secretary at the time also prohibited utilities that supply facilities from importing items from China. Secretary Dan Brouillette said that it was “imperative” the power system was secure from attacks and exploitation.

Biden Reverses Course

On President Joe Biden’s first day in office, he issued an executive order seeking to address the Keystone XL pipeline. In the bottom part of the order, the action also suspended Trump’s order for 90 days to consider if a replacement should be issued.

The provision reportedly allows China to continue exporting transformers to the United States without any issues. It also comes on the heels of reports that Chinese hackers used the SolarWinds bug to spy on U.S. payrolls.

The order remains suspended until April, when the order will be replaced or expire. It is not clear what the Biden administration will replace the order with, if at all.

Before the winter storm, Biden approved an emergency declaration for Texas in the event of the worst. However, Biden’s response to the power outages has been slow, with new authorizations only coming yesterday regarding deliveries of supplies.

What Happens Next?

The situation in Texas, albeit caused mainly by unprecedented weather conditions, could have been mitigated significantly. The use of Chinese-built transformers may have had a role in exactly why the power grid catastrophically failed.

Although it’s unlikely a cyberattack may have caused the grid to undergo immense stress, the use of such technology should be of concern. The vulnerabilities of the U.S. power grid are now on display in the south and should not go unnoticed.

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Politics

Truth Social Review 90 Days In

All in all, FANTASTIC!

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Follow me on Truth Social @ChrisWidener

Here is an honest review of President Trump’s new Truth Social – the conservative social media network started by President Donald J. Trump. Watch the video or get the basics below the video:

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Here are the bullet points:

* Easy to Register

* Truth Social has the function of Twitter but the feel of Facebook. A GREAT blend of the two. One key benefit: You are allowed a lot more space to post than on Twitter!

* Popular Hashtags: @Truth #TrumpSocial #TrumpTruth #TrumpTruths #TrumpTrains

* 99% political posts. Question: Will it, over time, transition to posts about all of life rather than just politics?

* Easy to use. No glitches experienced on my part.

* Can be used on the web with your browser.

* Not many people trolling. They probably wouldn’t be tolerated anyway.

* All in all, FANTASTIC! I am enjoying Truth Social very much!

Follow me on Truth Social @ChrisWidener

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Family

Movie Reviews, Part 3

Here are seven mini-movie reviews

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Here is the third compilation of 2021 movies, a weak year for the cinema.

A Quiet Place 2 — starring Emily Blunt and Cillian Murphy can’t quite compete with the original. Nevertheless, it is a fairly worthy successor, and includes a prequel showing the dreaded sightless monsters first taking over earth. The ending is decent.

The Last Leonardo — as documentaries go, this is outstanding. Featured only in art house theatres, you don’t have to be an art lover or be knowledgeable about the art world to quickly be drawn into this real-life ‘who done it?’ mystery. The producers spared no expense in taking us around the world and in interviewing subject matter experts. Side note: I recently read Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson, and the book offers countless clues to da Vinci’s genius and the subtlety of his detail. Thus, I likely know whether or not the painting is genuine.

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The Eyes of Tammy Faye — starring Andrew Garvey and Jessica Chastain is a rather so-so movie. As she has done so often, Jessica Chastain offers an Oscar-worthy performance, perhaps enough to draw in movie-goers.

One Shot — a gripping tale. A prisoner being held at a base outside of the U.S., who has knowledge that could stop a major terrorist attack, is to be transferred by the FBI to Washington. Terrorist-paid mercenaries invade and seek to kill him. Intense battles, hand-to-hand combat, and on-the-spot-executions — certainly not for everyone, but it has its merits.

The Most Reluctant Convert: The Untold Story of CS Lewis — the protagonist, the elder Lewis, stares into the camera, literally, for 3/4 of the movie. This simply does not work for me. Also, (sorry to my Christian friends who loved this flick) the lead-up to his conversion is unconvincing.

King Richard — Will Smith, in another of his many great roles, is the over-strategizing, stubborn, resolute father who creates a 78-page manual on how his daughters will become tennis stars; in essence giving you a vivid idea of how the plot unfolds. Some good supporting roles. And Venus and Serena are executive producers!

Ghostbusters Afterlife — with Paul Rudd, Carrie Coon, and a variety of competent child actors, is a misguided attempt at extending the franchise. The humor is a bit flat, the action is predictable, and there’s not much here worth viewing, including the contrived surprise ending.

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