On Monday, the state’s grid operator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), issued a plea for help. The grid was once again running short on power and to avoid blackouts, the state’s least understood, most hated entity needed Texans to once again curtail their electricity usage. As ERCOT explained, some 11,000 megawatts—enough to power more than two million homes—had inexplicably tripped off-line just as the heat of summer started to set in across the state.
ERCOT vice president Woody Rickerson said in a statement that it wasn’t immediately clear why so many generating plants had “forced outages,” meaning they needed unplanned repairs, and then noted that “this is unusual for this early in the summer season.” What’s not unusual is the number of high-profile flops by the Texas power grid this year. The prospect of running low on electricity comes just four months after the grid failed during February’s winter storm…
Put simply, our electric system can’t deliver the power we need when we need it most. Fixing that fatal flaw is going to be extremely difficult, and our politicians don’t do difficult. They prefer to rush to safe havens like Fox News to scapegoat renewable energy sources, or distract us with calls for a GoFundMe border wall. What bills they actually pass are little more than Band-Aids to address their past mistakes…
Sounds like Texas to me. Actually, it sounds like many state legislatures and the big flophouse in Washington, DC. Folks are starting to talk about a Third Party. Maybe not capable of replacing one of the two old parties; but, maybe enough to scare the crap out of one or the other to start taking care of business.
9 thoughts on “What’s wrong with the Texas grid?”
“What went wrong? The Lone Star State made three fundamental errors.” (The Atlantic, Feb 21, 2021) https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2021/02/what-went-wrong-texas/618104/
“Solar Was Only Energy Source to Outperform Expectations During Texas Blackout : Natural gas was responsible for two-thirds of February’s energy deficit, a new study found.” https://www.vice.com/en/article/z3xyex/solar-was-only-energy-source-to-outperform-expectations-during-texas-blackout
“Texan voters unsure if state can tackle power grid issues : Latest survey shows texan voters want weatherization/winterization of electric grid but doubt legislated policy will deliver” (University of Houston) https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2021-06/uoh-tvu062521.php
“…Despite some doubt, eligible voters across party lines believe that wind, solar and other renewable energy sources will make a substantial contribution to reliable and secure electricity supply in Texas in the future. Sun or solar power accounted for 56.3% of surveyed respondents selected sun or solar power as a likely to make a substantial contribution, followed by wind power at 54%. The greatest support for renewables came from ages 18-29 at 69%.
Even among Republicans, who had the lowest level of support compared to Democrats and Independents, 42% still agreed that solar power would make a substantial contribution,” said Gail Buttorff, Co-Director, Survey Research Institute and Assistant Instructional Professor, at the UH Hobby School of Public Affairs and co-principal investigator.
Younger respondents are much more likely to believe that climate change is happening, though a majority of respondents believe it is happening across age groups. 91% of respondents aged 18-29 believe climate change is happening compared to 76%, 73%, and 60% in the three older age groups.” https://uh.edu/news-events/stories/2021/june-2021/hobby-survey-electric-grid.php
“Meet 6 Texans who could upend the oil industry : One of Texas’ top energy regulators is facing a wide field of challengers for reelection after an unprecedented year that saw the state’s natural gas and power generation systems fail in the middle of a winter storm.” https://www.eenews.net/articles/meet-6-texans-who-could-upend-the-oil-industry/
“Despite Reforms, the Texas Electricity Grid Is Still Vulnerable to Cold : Gov. Greg Abbott has promised the lights will stay on this winter. But many of the problems that led to the power system failure in February remain.” https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/23/us/texas-electricity-grid-winter.html
“Texas A&M Expert: Texas Power Grid Should Be OK” https://indiaeducationdiary.in/texas-am-texas-am-expert-texas-power-grid-should-be-ok/
Texas governor signs disaster declaration for 17 counties after ‘significant icing event’
Even so, 70,000 Texans were without power following Thursday’s winter storm, but Abbott said it’s not a grid issue. https://www.kcentv.com/article/news/local/gov-abbott-to-update-on-winter-storm-impacts-thursday-morning/500-43a1ca7a-64f6-4284-9d0d-42fc060d3f74
Wind Gives Unexpected Power Boost to Texas Grid As Storm Drives Up Demand https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-02-03/wind-gives-surprising-boost-to-texas-grid-as-power-use-surges
As a major winter storm descends on Texas, crypto miners are powering down operations to help ease the burden on the state’s already beleaguered power grid.
Riot Blockchain has already shut down 99% of its operations at its Texas mine. https://www.cnbc.com/2022/02/03/winter-storm-descends-on-texas-bitcoin-miners-shut-off-to-protect-ercot.html
“Oil and gas regulators are assuring Texans the natural gas system will keep functioning this winter, saying they’ve done more than 3,000 inspections to check on it.
What they’re not saying is many of those inspections found that gas production and transmission facilities can’t guarantee they’re prepared for another hard freeze.
For about 40 percent of the pipeline and storage sites Texas deems critical, operators hadn’t conducted a winterization test or company officials didn’t know if one had been performed, according to records from the state Railroad Commission obtained under a Public Information Act request. State inspectors also didn’t actually visit dozens of sites because of “time constraints,” the records show.
One gas-fired plant was forced to shut down a month after state inspectors said its supply pipelines had passed an inspection, records show. In other cases, inspectors appear to have overlooked important information.
Critics said there’s an underlying problem — the Railroad Commission has yet to write winterization standards for gas wells, pipelines and storage facilities. The lack of clear guidelines makes it hard to judge the effectiveness of the commission’s inspection campaign, said Luke Metzger, executive director of Environment Texas.” https://www.eenews.net/articles/documents-show-major-gaps-in-texas-gas-inspections/
26 million Texans asked to turn up thermostats after sweltering heat knocks six power plants offline https://www.cnn.com/2022/05/14/us/texas-heat-wave-ercot-conserve/index.html 26 million customers
Majority of U.S. Power Grid at Risk of Failure This Summer, Report Warns : The Midwest is at “high risk of energy emergencies” and Texas and the West could see outages and shortfalls amid high heat and drought. https://www.vice.com/en/article/dypnja/majority-of-us-power-grid-at-risk-of-failure-this-summer-report-warns
More than 240,000 homes and businesses were without power in Texas early Wednesday as the Lone Star state continued to battle frigid temperatures and freezing rain.
In Travis County alone, which houses the state capital of Austin, more than 100,000 customers were without power as of about 7:30 a.m. CT, as the area braced for the second day of the winter storm. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2023/02/01/texas-power-outages-travis-county/11161333002/
As of about 7:30 a.m. local time the state’s electrical power grid reported plenty of power and showed it was operating within normal conditions.
Electric Reliability Council of Texas manages the flow of electric power to more than 26 million Texas customers – representing about 90 percent of the state’s electric load.