Skip to main content
You have permission to edit this article.
Edit
Editorial: Oklahoma infrastructure and the Oklahoma standard are tested by extreme weather, but we will prevail

Editorial: Oklahoma infrastructure and the Oklahoma standard are tested by extreme weather, but we will prevail

  • Updated
{{featured_button_text}}
Oklahoma Weather (copy)

A stop sign has been encased in a shell of ice in north Tulsa as a winter storm moves into northeast Oklahoma on Sunday, Feb. 14, 2021, dropping temperatures to single digits. 

A deadly, record-shattering cold wave tested the nerves of Oklahomans this week.

High demand for electricity caused the Southwest Power Pool to declare a Level 3 energy emergency Monday and Tuesday, leading to rolling electricity supply interruptions in parts of the state and throughout the region. The forecast has improved modestly, but the trial may not be past.

High demand was exacerbated by supply problems. Frozen oil fields slowed the supply of natural gas to generators. Windmill-generated electricity was frozen solid.

The extreme cold also led to the potential for natural gas cutoffs to commercial and residential customers. Natural gas is the basic heating fuel for most Oklahoma homes and businesses; once service is cut off, returning it isn’t as simple as repressuring the lines.

To state the obvious, Oklahoma’s infrastructure isn’t built to withstand below-zero weather for long periods. The longer they last, the more problems crop up and the shorter the public’s nerves become.

Given the realities of climate change, the issue can’t be simply dismissed as the quirks of a one-off disaster. Warmer weather is on the horizon, but does anyone think this is the last time we will be tested by extremes of hot and cold? An all-fronts approach to the ongoing problem must address supply, demand and hardening our society to the challenges of climate through energy efficiency and conservation.

We have very little patience for those who took pleasure in seeing stock photos of frozen windmills and came to the hasty conclusion: So much for renewable energy.

More than a third of the state’s electricity is created by renewable energy, mostly from wind power. We need more of that, not less. Expecting fossil fuels to solve the problem resembles nothing so much as a lung patient reaching for cigarettes.

Yes, windmills don’t create power when the wind doesn’t blow or when ice stops their blades. And gas-fired generators generate nothing when there is no gas.

The solution seems to be a balanced energy portfolio as our economy transitions to a more sustainable future. Words like balance and sustainable aren’t always popular, especially in unprecedented circumstances such as the past week. That doesn’t mean they aren’t the proper path forward.

In the meantime, we should all take a moment to recognize the things that worked well in recent days.

Our police, firefighters and first responders were there when we needed them.

The city’s water crews were on top of line breaks. Plumbers responded to homes with burst pipes.

Neighbors reached out to neighbors and made sure everyone was warm, fed and cheered. The Oklahoma standard was affirmed again in acts of generosity large and small.

These are not small things. In a disaster, they are the keys to survival, the only things that matter.


Featured video:

Subscribe to Daily Headlines

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Catch the latest in Opinion

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Most Popular

  • Updated

In a recent meeting with the Tulsa World editorial board, Gov. Kevin Stitt said the vaccine supply and demand situation is likely to flip soon, the editorial says. Instead of there being more demand than supply, supply will outpace demand in the state by the end of March or early April, he predicted. That would be a welcome turn of events for sure.

  • Updated

This was clear after a Monday press conference held by top state leaders: They largely don't know what they're going to do — if anything — about the looming wave of massive utility bills facing consumers throughout the state and the best assurances they had to offer were only modestly assuring, the editorial says.

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.

Topics

Breaking News