37 minutes | Apr 5, 2021

Big Tech & Lessons from the Electricity Crisis

Show Notes  On the first episode of “Free Lunch” we discussed two main issues: the influence of big tech and the fallout from the February 2021 blackouts in Texas. The notes below contain links to relevant Salem Center events, academic studies, and newspaper articles.  We would love to hear your feedback about the podcast.  My email is steven.rashin@mccombs.utexas.edu.  Big Tech  Salem Center events on the Big Tech:  Is Big Tech Too Big? https://salemcenter.org/event/is-big-tech-too-big/   Additional notes/context/links:  Steve mentioned Facebook’s role in violence in Myanmar.  Here’s more detail on Facebook’s role in inciting the violence (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/15/technology/myanmar-facebook-genocide.html) One of Greg’s talks on free speech (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dKPwQKfMbVQ&ab_channel=SalemCenterforPolicy)   Electricity Crisis  Salem Center events on the Texas Electricity crisis:  Does Texas Value Reliable Energy https://salemcenter.org/event/does-texas-value-reliable-energy/ Forget About What Broke:  Why Poor Policies Made Texas Blackouts Inevitable https://salemcenter.org/event/forget-about-what-broke-why-poor-policies-made-texas-blackouts-inevitable/  Exploring Tradeoffs in the Texas Engergy System https://salemcenter.org/event/exploring-tradeoffs-in-the-texas-energy-system/   Additional notes/context/links:  A Wall Street Journal article about the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC) raising electricity prices to $9,000 a megawatt hour.  https://www.wsj.com/articles/texas-power-regulators-decision-to-raise-prices-in-freeze-generates-criticism-11614268158.  Typically, prices are quoted per kilowatt hour (1/1000th of a megawatt hour).  In Texas the average price of electricity before the crisis was $0.1139 per kilowatt hour (https://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly/epm_table_grapher.php?t=epmt_5_6_a) – which is $113.9 per megawatt hour.  Reuters notes that “[o]ne megawatt typically provides enough power for 200 homes on a hot summer day.” (https://www.reuters.com/article/texas-power-summer/update-1-after-winter-crisis-texas-power-grid-assures-will-meet-record-summer-demand-idUSL1N2LN27Q) Carlos mentioned a paper that shows that the cost of natural disasters hasn’t increased.  In Bjorn Lornberg’s piece “Welfare in the 21st century: Increasing development, reducing inequality, the impact of climate change, and the cost of climate policies,” (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.techfore.2020.119981) he cites John McAneney et al.’s 2019 paper “Normalised insurance losses from Australian natural disasters: 1966-2017”  (https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/17477891.2019.1609406) 
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