Texas Power Shortage

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
6,003
Northern NH
The polar vortex is hitting Texas. Much of the power generation and gas distribution was not designed for cold weather. Texas does not have a capacity system in place to pay for capacity in case its needed. This reduces power rates during normal times but a bit of problem during unusual conditions. So here is a snip from the Ercotwebsite today. The forecast demand color is bit hard to see but what it shows is that the grid will run out of power tonight. That usually means brown outs and black outs.

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DuaeGuttae

Minister of Fire
Oct 26, 2016
775
Texas
We've already gotten the generic recording from the power company asking us to cut natural gas and electric usage because of unprecedented demand. We've been keeping the heat low in the majority of the house (we do have to worry about water piping in external walls, however), and our woodstove has been cranking for days. I'm so thankful for that stove.

There will be no babies here in nine months. If we lose power, all four kids will move out of their two bedrooms where the woodstove heat doesn't flow, and we'll be having a family camp out.
 

Dataman

Minister of Fire
Sep 10, 2018
900
Newport, Wa
We don't have that problem where I live. 3 Hydro Power Dams. We have power than we can use and Sell right now in Pend Oreille County. All 9135 Customers that are being serviced. Boundary Dam (600mw, Shared with Seattle) plus Box Canyon Dam (60mw). Albeni Falls Dam (4.6mw). Biggest Customer went out of Business (Newsprint Company). They bought most of the power so rates going up. Shame it can't be sent to Texas
 

John Galt

Member
Oct 22, 2019
97
W Montana
I've seen this most of my life from growing up in Texas. Electricity is not even close to capacity. Cooling during the summer is thirty times the amount from during the winter, there is never any issue there. Natural gas usage is higher and during the peaks of a cold snap people freak out. There has NEVER been any issue with a shutdown or reduced capacity of any services. Don't believe it.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
86,528
South Puget Sound, WA

kennyp2339

Minister of Fire
Feb 16, 2014
5,621
07462
This is a great example of why steady generation is needed w/ supplemental renewables. We need to really start investigating and planning for more nuclear generation, take the existing natural gas and turn them into peakers and still keep the door open for expanded renewables. Its the only feasible way at this point to make this all work, especially with our tech.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
6,003
Northern NH
Mass is going to be the guinea pig for Clean Peak where no fossil generation (including natural gas peakers) will be used to cover a peak demand condition. They will pay a capacity payment to renewable generators for short term dispatch of renewable power. Hydroplants in the region are installing battery banks to act as virtual pondage so they can sell more power during high demand times without exceeding their limits of discharge flow. They can charge the batteries up when there is minimal demand for power and then dispatch peak "renewable generation" when its in demand. The economics are lined up that new renewable projects most likely will have a battery integrated with them. With more renewables going on the grid, negative power rates will increase and no doubt some entrepreneur will just start building batteries to take advantage of the mismatch in supply and demand.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
6,003
Northern NH
BTW as of this AM Texas looks to be doing demand response (rolling black outs). They are matching system demand to actual generation capacity. No doubt those with a wood stove and a pile of wood are lot happier than their neighbors without.

I am not familiar with the ERCOT website since its out of my region but I think this graph is showing that power is worth a whole lot of money. I hovered over a few points and they were in excess of $10,000 per MW/hr
1613393118708.png
 

EatenByLimestone

Minister of Fire
I think we could make a killing selling tip ups to the Texans!
 

sloeffle

Minister of Fire
Mar 1, 2012
776
Central Ohio
This is a great example of why steady generation is needed w/ supplemental renewables. We need to really start investigating and planning for more nuclear generation, take the existing natural gas and turn them into peakers and still keep the door open for expanded renewables. Its the only feasible way at this point to make this all work, especially with our tech.
60 Minutes had a piece last night with Bill Gates about climate change. One of the companies that Bill Gates has plowed a lot of money into is a nuclear generation company called Terrapower. Even he knows that full renewables are not going to be attainable until battery tech can catch up.

 

EbS-P

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
528
SE North Carolina
Looks like tonight will be worse. These climatological “anomalies” are really becoming too common place. The number of standby generators sold here after hurricane Florence was a lot. Now the number of people employed to service them I’m sure has gone up as I see their vehicles all over.
7FE6A83C-C7E1-459F-BEA5-83D3FF45422B.png
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
6,003
Northern NH
Unfortunately my guess is they are natural gas units and one of the results of this extreme cold is reduced gas supply.

One of the many issues with Global warming is with more energy in the atmosphere weather extremes are worse, the highs are higher and the lows are lower. There have been artic intrusions into Texas in the past, AGW just makes them go deeper and last longer.
 

woodgeek

Minister of Fire
Jan 27, 2008
4,312
SE PA
Unfortunately my guess is they are natural gas units and one of the results of this extreme cold is reduced gas supply.

One of the many issues with Global warming is with more energy in the atmosphere weather extremes are worse, the highs are higher and the lows are lower. There have been artic intrusions into Texas in the past, AGW just makes them go deeper and last longer.
Lots of automagic natgas gennies sold in the wealthy burbs near me after SS Sandy. Then the gas co did the math, and realized that they would pull down the distribution grid during an outage. So they went and dug up the streets all over in those places. :rolleyes:
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
6,003
Northern NH
I expect Texas will be way down on the trend but there are cities in US banning new natural gas hookups. The concept is the only source of power will be a green grid so why let new homes be part of the problem? Obviously a nice concept as long as the power grid stays up.
 
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ABMax24

Minister of Fire
I expect Texas will be way down on the trend but there are cities in US banning new natural gas hookups. The concept is the only source of power will be a green grid so why let new homes be part of the problem? Obviously a nice concept as long as the power grid stays up.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm also of the understanding that some of these "moratoriums" on natural gas to new homes are due to a supply problem. For whatever reason new gas transmission lines haven't been built and the existing system is at capacity, adding more demand to the mix would just exacerbate the lack of supply issue.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
6,003
Northern NH
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm also of the understanding that some of these "moratoriums" on natural gas to new homes are due to a supply problem. For whatever reason new gas transmission lines haven't been built and the existing system is at capacity, adding more demand to the mix would just exacerbate the lack of supply issue.
Is not just local supply constraints like the New York area, which was some arm twisting to get new natural gas supplies into the NYC area. Berkley CA started the trend for no new gas connections for global warming purposes and it has spread to other like minded areas. Berkeley became first US city to ban natural gas. Here's what that may mean for the future | Climate change | The Guardian
 
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moresnow

Minister of Fire
Jan 13, 2015
1,667
Iowa
Never thought I'd read that firewood was in short supply in Texas! Just read it on my news feed. Interesting.
Potential for ocean effect snows as well. Just like lake effect around the great lakes. Bizarre.
Snowbirds are terrified huddling up all over the south for a few days! So much for drinks around the pool.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
6,003
Northern NH
Just like Hurricanes, the press will latch onto it and then give it a few weeks and most will forget about it. I think the political rationalization will be that its too expensive to fix and they would rather keep the cheap power 99.9 percent of the year. Power plants do run at well below freezing temps all over the world, it just costs more to put them in a building and design them for freezing temps.
 

Brian26

Minister of Fire
Sep 20, 2013
582
Branford, CT
I was reading that part of the issue is most Texas homes use heat pumps that are designed for the 30s and higher. These aren't like cold climate mini splits and they lose like 50% or more of their capacity at 17 degrees. There are probably tons of auxiliary electric strips running. Those things use some serious electricty as they are usually like 10, 20, or 25 kw electric resistance loads.
 
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John Galt

Member
Oct 22, 2019
97
W Montana
Looks like I was wrong. We would get threats every few years that the power would be cut. I just got a call from my dad saying the electricity was 15 min on 15 min off.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
6,003
Northern NH
I think Brian hit a key item, no doubt the backup heating electric resistance elements are a major power draw and expect no need for a cold climate design heat pumps.

I also saw that Texas wind turbines are not equipped with deicing. Its standard up north but since it rarely freezes in Texas no need to install it(except when its desperately needed). I thought the blades were now coated with hydrophobic coatings to resist icing. Of course up in my area the local wind farm has a fairly large ice throw zone. I have seen photos of when a piece of ice from the blades hits the ground. They can be larger than a pickup truck and go a 1/4 of a mile.
 

Grizzerbear

Minister of Fire
Feb 12, 2019
929
SW Missoura
I was reading that part of the issue is most Texas homes use heat pumps that are designed for the 30s and higher. These aren't like cold climate mini splits and they lose like 50% or more of their capacity at 17 degrees. There are probably tons of auxiliary electric strips running. Those things use some serious electricty as they are usually like 10, 20, or 25 kw electric resistance loads.
Bingo
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
6,003
Northern NH
$9000 a megawatt this morning. They stopped forecasting demand. They just call the member utilities to make cut and let the utilities make the cuts. Those that share circuits with hospitals and essential services are lucky, they will no black them out so that means everyone else gets blacked out for longer. One report is that some portion of this mess is the people who own the power plants just ignored winterization as it cost money and doesnt happen often enough. Apparently this was a partial cause on the last two big events.
 
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