Wednesday, February 17, 2021

What’s happening in Texas

Heather Cox Richardson’s Letters from an American has a helpful explanation of what’s happening in Texas. Here’s the rejoinder to the claims that wind turbines and a Green New Deal will destroy life as we know it:

Most of Texas is on its own power grid, a decision made in the 1930s to keep it clear of federal regulation. This means both that it avoids federal regulation and that it cannot import more electricity during periods of high demand. Apparently, as temperatures began to drop, people turned up electric heaters and needed more power than engineers had been told to design for, just as the ice shut down gas-fired plants and wind turbines froze. Demand for natural gas spiked and created a shortage.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) told Sean Hannity that the disaster “shows how the Green New Deal would be a deadly deal” for the United States, but Dan Woodfin, a senior director for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the organization in charge of the state’s power grid, told Bloomberg that the frozen wind turbines were the smallest factor in the crisis. They supply only about 10% of the state’s power in the winter.

Frozen instruments at gas, coal, and nuclear plants, as well as shortages of natural gas, were the major culprits. To keep electricity prices low, ERCOT had not prepared for such a crisis. El Paso, which is not part of ERCOT but is instead linked to a larger grid that includes other states and thus is regulated, did, in fact, weatherize their equipment. Its customers lost power only briefly.

With climate change expected to intensify extremes of weather, the crisis in Texas indicates that our infrastructure will need to be reinforced to meet conditions it was not designed for.

comments: 2

Anonymous said...

I might argue that part of the problem is also that their power supply most likely has not kept up with population growth. According to searches, the population of TX looks to increase around one percent every year. The DFW is now the 4th largest metro area in the country.

Although no one seems to be mentioning it, I would also argue that we have a large population there who thinks it will always be sunny and warm so they do not need to prepare for adverse conditions.

And by the way, TX does get some of its power from outside the state:

And we in KS were hit with rolling blackouts on Monday and Tuesday during the coldest part of the Artic vortex. 2.5 hours during -17 weather.


Michael Leddy said...

The PBS NewsHour just had some discussion about whether it’s too costly to build a system to prepare for this kind of weather in Texas.

I notice that El Paso isn’t in the red zone of that map. So there must be more than one source. I’m guess HCR’s “most of Texas” covers it.

We had a two-hour power outage last week, possibly because of a fallen tree limb. Stay safe.