Below is a parody of the famous Christmas poem, “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,” but redone to describe the 2022 NC blackouts the night before Christmas. For those who need a primer on the events of that night, please see the overview below. If not, you can skip down to the poem itself. Enjoy and Merry Christmas!
Note: In early morning Dec. 24, 2022, amid an East Coast cold snap, North Carolinians suffered Duke Energy’s first-ever implementation of rolling blackouts. Duke Energy Carolinas and Duke Energy Progress had jointly gone into the night with seemingly enough operating reserves, but freezing instrumentation lines at three plants and loss of expected outside power supplies put them in a deficit. Implemented shortly after 6 am, before daylight, and during peak demand, the blackouts were immediately exacerbated by failure of the automated program meant to balance them and not affect anyone more than 15 to 30 minutes.
Gov. Roy Cooper and his renewable-energy cronies, including media, tried to seize the moment and suggest that the problem was “fossil fuel” plants and the lack of renewable energy, especially solar. They seized on Duke testifying that solar had “performed as expected,” which meant only that — since it was a sunny day — solar generated power from mid-morning to mid-afternoon, well after the blackouts had been implemented. What if the cold front had brought in clouds and snow? The governor was so bold as to declare solar and wind reliable and even low–cost and declared the answer was to “transition” our electric system to them.
They ignored another clean energy source entirely, which they have strangely always opposed: nuclear. The production from nuclear was steady throughout the night and day — before, during, and after the blackouts. It was illustrative of the fact that a low-cost, reliable, zero-emissions electricity system would have to rely not on intermittent, weather-dependent renewables, but on steady nuclear power. And now for the poem:
‘Twas the Night Before Blackouts
‘Twas two nights before Christmas, and all ‘cross the state,
A hard freeze was falling — not bad, but not great.
The heat pumps were doing as best as they could
To keep our homes toasty, which meant that they would
Pull lots of power, because they’re not built
For cold weather warmed, but hot weather chilled.
So Duke with its plans and its engineers schemed
To have reserves ready while children all dreamed.
They fully expected to have enough stock
But the night brought us all a terrible shock.
Instrumentation lines froze at three plants,
Losing planned power from that circumstance.
Their outside purchases also fell through
As bone-chilling cold hit other states, too.
Midnight struck with Dan River derated
The utilities, though, were not yet frustrated
They lost 360 megawatts
But combined reserves were 2,000 — that’s lots.
Then after 2, expected supplies fell
While customer demand went up as well.
Before the night, they thought they’d have plenty,
Then Roxboro dropped one — loss of 320.
Firm and nonfirm supplies dropped 650
While a third party tripped — there went 350.
Now demand was outpacing projections,
And Duke urged on generating stations,
Now Brunswick! Now Harris! Now McGuire! Stay strong, y’all!
On Belews! On Rogers! On Lee and Marshall!
But then a Mayo unit was derated
350 more lost, and Duke’s hopes deflated.
With demand and reserves much worse than they’d feared
They knew in a moment that blackouts had neared.
“Load shedding” began that morning at 6,
The automated program was meant to fix
The system imbalances without undue
Hardship on people — but it failed us, too.
Duke said they’d tested it, but on that score,
Power wasn’t fully restored until 4.
For outages to be “rolling,” we were told,
We’d spend half an hour in the dark and the cold,
But workers were forced to manage the power
Leaving homes frigid hour after hour.
And what happened next? In Raleigh, they say,
The governor’s deceptions grew three times that day.
While some gas and coal plants were affected,
Solar, he said, “performed as expected.”
The governor tried buzzwords and hokum,
Propaganda, some half-truths, and buncombe,
Called our “fossil fuel” plants “unreliable”
And solar “low-cost” and “sustainable.”
“Performed as expected” — well, what does that mean?
It depends on whether the sun could be seen.
That Christmas Eve day was sunny, in fact,
So solar production was kept much intact.
But what if it had been overcast instead?
Or snowy or rainy — what then could be said?
Solar production would then have been nil
But we’d have to call it “as expected” still.
Solar, as expected, gave us no power
When blackouts were triggered at that predawn hour.
Its daytime production did help meet the need
But just by good luck — we got lucky indeed.
Equipment failures from gas and from coal
Must be addressed, but taken as a whole
Don’t mean those fuels are unreliable.
Mechanical issues are all fixable.
The governor, though, seized on the notion
That gas and coal failed, and that the solution
Is flood the grid with renewable sources —
“Clean energy” based on natural forces.
He’d “transition” the grid to solar and wind
And promise we’ll never have problems again.
A political pledge for sunshine and breeze
But calm, dark, or gloomy? Our homes would freeze.
His counsel, if heeded, would just make it so
These blackouts would become a recurring woe.
How foolish to go to solar to seek
Power before sunrise at the demand peak!
There was a hero, a clean energy source,
Powering us that day: ‘twas nuclear, of course.
For some strange reason, though, it was ignored —
But it kept on producing as demand soared.
Here’s a timeline of hourly production
That cold night showing Duke’s generation.
Timeline of the Christmas Eve 2022 blackouts, with hourly electricity generation by select sources
You can see the falloff of coal and of gas
And the one midday hump that solar has.
Meanwhile, the nuclear line sits at the top.
Nuclear kept on working with no waver or stop.
It was reliability in action
(Which gave the governor no satisfaction).
The blackouts will go down in history
Unless, like the governor, we choose to be
Careless about grid reliability,
Then, I fear, they’ll go down in infamy.