Renewable energy is increasingly scapegoated as the primary cause of weather-related power outages and other grid failures, despite substantial evidence to the contrary. Disinformation campaigns framing renewables as unreliable are driven by two factors: the increasing frequency of power outages and the growing pressures facing fossil fuel energy stakeholders. Over the past decade, power outages in the United States have doubled, primarily due to increased extreme weather, aging energy infrastructure, and a rapidly changing resource mix. At the same time, the energy transition is placing unprecedented competitive pressure on the coal and gas industry and on the nation’s utilities. These factors are driving fossil fuel stakeholders and their allies to increasingly make renewables the scapegoat for large-scale blackouts and other grid-related challenges. As the scapegoating after recent power outages in Texas and California shows, such disinformation campaigns can shift blame for grid failures away from responsible parties, bolster policies that perpetuate the nation’s reliance on carbon-heavy energy sources, and justify unwarranted investments in outdated energy infrastructure. This Article highlights this trend and its adverse impacts and suggests several potential strategies for addressing it, including government-sponsored information campaigns and the possibility of creating a new federal agency focused on promoting accuracy and transparency in energy-related messaging.
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License.
Teddy Gonzalez & Jillian Knox,
In the Dark: The Scapegoating of Renewables After Grid Failures,
Nat. Res. J.
Available at: https://digitalrepository.unm.edu/nrj/vol63/iss1/3