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Will Texas Be Able to Reboot Its Power Grid This Weekend?


Overnight, the incredible situation in Texas has not improved very much, with some 3 million homes and businesses still without power following a deadly record-breaking freeze. How did this happen, and what can be done to help residents and businesses return to civilization?

Previously, the state’s increasingly ‘green’ power grid has been about handle energy demands during hot summers, but it was not prepared for the heavy winter on 2021. One of the main problems which has helped to trigger many of the state’s outages has been frozen wind turbines, leading to catastrophic power failures and rolling blackouts.

“This is what happens when you force the grid to rely in part on wind as a power source,” Republican Congressman Dan Crenshaw tweeted Tuesday. “When weather conditions get bad as they did this week, intermittent renewable energy like wind isn’t there when you need it.”

“We should never build another wind turbine in Texas,” said Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller in a Facebook post. “The experiment failed big time.”

Texas Governor Greg Abbott also weighed-in, warning of the dangers his state will face by blindly pursuing the Biden Administration’s half-baked “Green New Deal” idea.

Other causes of generator failures include frozen natural gas pipes and supplies, as well as frozen powerlines which were downed during the biggest winter storm in 100 years.

In addition to this, there are also structure issues with the state’s power grid, which appears to have suffered from chronic under-investment, as well as some lingering Eron-era hangovers around the issue of deregulation.

To compound their problems, extreme weather in neighboring states has prevented Texas from drawing emergency power from outside the state.

Regardless, if the current freeze continues, Texas may struggle getting power back to all of its homes and businesses in the coming week.

Houston Chronicle reports…

Millions of Texans were without heat and electricity Monday as snow, ice and frigid temperatures caused a catastrophic failure of the state’s power grid.

The Texas power grid, powered largely by wind and natural gas, is relatively well equipped to handle the state’s hot and humid summers when demand for power soars. But unlike blistering summers, the severe winter weather delivered a crippling blow to power production, cutting supplies as the falling temperatures increased demand.

Natural gas shortages and frozen wind turbines were already curtailing power output when the Arctic blast began knocking generators offline early Monday morning.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, which is responsible for scheduling power and ensuring the reliability of the electrical network, declared a statewide power generation shortfall emergency and asked electricity delivery companies to reduce load through controlled outages.

More than 4 million customers were without power in Texas, including 1.4 million in the Houston area, the worst power crisis in the state in a decade. The forced outages are expected to last at least through part of Tuesday, the state grid manager said.

SEE ALSO: Texas Grid Operator: ‘Frozen Wind Turbines Caused Power Outages’

CenterPoint Energy, the regulated utility that delivers electricity to Houston-area homes and provides natural gas service, started rolling blackouts in the Houston region at the order of state power regulators. It said customers experiencing outages should be prepared to be without power at least through Monday.

“How long is it going to be? I don’t know the answer,” said Kenny Mercado, executive vice president at the Houston utility. “The generators are doing everything they can to get back on. But their work takes time and I don’t know how long it will take. But for us to move forward, we have got to get generation back onto the grid. That is our primary need.”

The U.S. Energy Department, in response to an ERCOT request, issued an order late Monday authorizing power plants throughout the state to run at maximum output levels, even if it results in exceeding pollution limits.

Ed Hirs, an energy fellow in the Department of Economics at the University of Houston, blamed the failures on the state’s deregulated power system, which doesn’t provide power generators with the returns needed to invest in maintaining and improving power plants.

“The ERCOT grid has collapsed in exactly the same manner as the old Soviet Union,” said Hirs. “It limped along on underinvestment and neglect until it finally broke under predictable circumstances.

Woodfin said ERCOT and generators followed best practices for winterization, but the severity of the weather was unprecedented — “well beyond the design parameters of an extreme Texas winter.”

The hit to power generation came as frigid weather froze wind turbines and forced outages among natural gas and other power plants. Most of the power knocked offline came from thermal sources, Woodfin said, particularly natural gas…

Continue this story at Houston Chronicle

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