Texas Power Shortage

kennyp2339

Minister of Fire
Feb 16, 2014
5,601
07462
@jetsam nope just some informative posts with a little bit of nerd, I think the pandemic broke us jump to conclusions with no real information type of people
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
86,454
South Puget Sound, WA
Interestingly, it doesn't appear to be the frozen windmills that are the biggest issue. Some of the problems seem to be a self-inflicted wound. Texas chose to uncouple from the national grid and go it on their own. This helped avoid pesky regulations and fees. They privatized the system and avoided pesky regulations like burying gas pipelines to protect from the elements. Doing so would have come in handy right now. Under normal circumstances, this has been nicely profitable for the wealthy owners, but now the piper is collecting.

Pretty lousy thing to have to tell your customers to pull the plug, right now.
 
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Brian26

Minister of Fire
Sep 20, 2013
574
Branford, CT
It seems the real issue is none of the power plant and gas infrastructure is winterized.

I think I read 70 to 80 plants are down right now. Imagine all the frozen water and burst lines in industrial applications.

Texas blackouts triggered by frozen power infrastructure have left many wondering why the state’s electricity generators weren’t prepared for the cold.

The short answer: They aren’t required to cold-proof their assets. While generators in chillier regions are typically compelled by federal or state rules to protect their plants from the elements, Texas plants can leave their pipes, valves and pressure gauges exposed. It’s cheaper that way.


“The power plants in the Northeast, we put exterior closures around it,” said Michael Webber, the chief science and technology officer at Engie, and an energy professor at the University of Texas at Austin. “They wrap a building around the plant.”

While Texas’s grid operator has called for generators to winterize their facilities after a 2011 cold snap also led to blackouts, it can’t force the companies to do so, said Adrian Shelley, Texas office director of the advocacy group Public Citizen.


“From a generator perspective, the only incentive is to bring energy to market as cheaply as possible,” Shelley said. “Those sorts of investments aren’t recouped in any other way but by selling energy.”

 
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EatenByLimestone

Minister of Fire
If the generator is running, it doesn't need to be winterized. I'm sure the biolers will keep the water quite warm.
 

ABMax24

Minister of Fire
If the generator is running, it doesn't need to be winterized. I'm sure the biolers will keep the water quite warm.
All it takes is a low point, dead leg, etc to be filled with water, the water freezes, splits the pipe and all of a sudden loss of water.
 
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peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
5,993
Northern NH
In engineering every power system is usually designed to local design conditions that are tied back to long term monitoring sites like national weather service. That long term data is then processed using statistics and the result are values that are regarded as accurate within a certain percentage of time. So there will be a table that lists a low temperature value for 95% of the time, and lower temp for 99% of the time and possible a third even lower value for 99.9% . These Texas events seem to occur about every 10 years which is 3650 days. So now in a 95% situation that is 182 days that will be colder than the published value. That means that for a system designed right to limit it may not run. For 99% its 36.5 days for 99.1% its 3.65 days. If the risk is crop damage, many folks will take the 95%, it its people dying that 99.9 starts to look marginal. There is an up front cost to deal with lower temps and an ongoing cost to keep those measures in place.

What happens all the time is that investors and local or regional politicians make a decision that they will take a higher risk to get higher short term rewards. Frequently power plants are built by developers, they see a financial opportunity and they develop a project to take advantage of the opportunity. They are usually required to have some of their own money in the game when they go to the investment community but once the plant is running they usually sell out their interest quickly. They are not in it for the long term so they are going to design the plant to the loosest possible standards they can get way with. Politicians make a similar decision, allow electrical and gas infrastructure to be built cheap to boost the economy and then blame anyone but themselves when it doesn't work. Texas made that decision long ago and the blame game is just starting.
 
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woodey

Burning Hunk
Feb 8, 2018
195
ST. Lawrence Valley N.Y.
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.
Good luck, hope you will have a generator on stand by.
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
501
Eastern Long Island NY

woodey

Burning Hunk
Feb 8, 2018
195
ST. Lawrence Valley N.Y.
Can somebody explain to me the economics behind the shutdown of the Keystone pipeline. From what I understand the product will still be delivered but now by trucking and by train. This will put more pollution into our atmosphere and push prices at the pump up along with food many other commodities.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
5,993
Northern NH
Good luck, hope you will have a generator on stand by.
[/QUOTE

The rest of the US has to follow NERC reliability standards so even if Mass tries clean peak there are plenty of oil fired peakers sitting in reserve. These peakers get paid not to run but to be ready to run in 5 minutes off of a tank of onsite fuel that will cover them for a couple of days. Texas decided they didnt need this type of reliability as it raises power rates. If it didnt start up and put ouyt full ouput in 15 minutes it had to pay the grid a bundle in penalties

I worked on a peaker several years ago in the middle atlantic, its really had never run except twice yearly testing. I figured out how to raise the output rating so that they got paid even more not to run it. I remember when I was kid being up at Le Ronde the amusement park in Montreal at the site of the old Expo 67 when the entire province went down due to voltage induction on the long transmission lines from solar storm running down from the hydros up north. My uncle was a cop and his house was on the north end of Montreal. He drove us back to his house through Montreal without any traffic lights. Peakers have to be located close to urban grids to avoid that problem.
 
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Grizzerbear

Minister of Fire
Feb 12, 2019
912
SW Missoura
Can somebody explain to me the economics behind the shutdown of the Keystone pipeline. From what I understand the product will still be delivered but now by trucking and by train. This will put more pollution into our atmosphere and push prices at the pump up along with food many other commodities.
Warren Buffet.....Berkshire Hathaway......Biden. Google it.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
5,993
Northern NH
The theory is the Keystone was intended to carry tar sands crude to the world markets down through the US. Tar sand and shale oil is already marginally break even at low oil prices, Sending it through a pipeline reduces the costs in the long term making more of it potentially hitting the market. Environmental groups in the US wanted to stop it but since they were in the US they couldn't stop it at the source so they stopped it at the pipeline. Trucks and trains can move it but it costs more so it drives the delivered cost up which means its less competitive and in theory less gets produced. Note the pipeline could go east west through Canada but I believe some tribes in BC are blocking any pipelines.

Sure some native tribes were propped up by anti pipeline funding but I suspect if it was just the tribes with no backing it would still be built.

Fundamentally the world proven oil reserves is now far more than what can be used to avoid climate disaster barring a technological breakthrough on a worldwide level. The current society goal is to drive up the price of fossil fuels particularly carbon rich ones to drive the use of renewable.
 

woodgeek

Minister of Fire
Jan 27, 2008
4,311
SE PA
I'm well aware of the politics behind it but am concerned about the economic effects it will have , especially on the poor.
The number of job associated with building the pipeline and maintaining it afterwards are miniscule. Why not worry about the train operators that the pipeline will cause to lose business?

Its like building a bridge to nowhere.
 

semipro

Minister of Fire
Jan 12, 2009
3,958
SW Virginia
Can somebody explain to me the economics behind the shutdown of the Keystone pipeline. From what I understand the product will still be delivered but now by trucking and by train. This will put more pollution into our atmosphere and push prices at the pump up along with food many other commodities.
I agree with part of your perspective especially as related to efficiency and safety, until I found out that the Mountain Valley Pipeline being built near my home was:
  • Taking land by eminent domain
  • Taking just about the worst possible route through karst terrain, near homes, across recreation areas like the Appalachian Trail
  • Not prepared to respond to problems that occur, nor deal with its eventual closure or remediation
  • Having very few current and future positive effects on the local economy
  • Depressing land/home values
  • For fracked natural gas that is destined primarily for foreign customers, adversely impacting our country's energy security
  • All for the profit of pipeline investors (some of whom serve on regulating boards like FERC), not for the general good.
I realize that this extends well beyond the "economics" you mentioned but I still wanted to share.

As an example, this 40+ inch dia. pipeline is being built this close to our neighbors' houses, on national forest land no less. Check out the right of way below.
1613594591289.png
 
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peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
5,993
Northern NH
To further the thread drift (time for splitting the thread?)

The Biden administration has acknowledged the major economic impact of the shift from fossils to renewables. Just like West Virginia is "road kill" due to the shutting down of coal generation, other areas will be road kill from fossil fuels. The question is if that acknowledgement will actually convert into policy to deal with the shift? Economic theory says people will move to where the jobs are but the reality is many people are fixed to their own little plot of land and are unable and unwilling to move. Canada has large amounts of hydro potential that has not been developed and they are looking at that as a future economic driver to replace oil. it will happen in different areas of the country (much of it controlled by first nations groups) than the tar sands and that means economic dislocation.

Folks dont realize, this decarbonization project is bigger than the Manhattan Project and is probably right up there with the Korean Conflict maybe WW2 with respect to nationwide impact. There will be winners and losers and no doubt politicians will try to get back into power under the premise of delaying the inevitable, it happened four years and no doubt it will happen at the upcoming midterms.
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
86,454
South Puget Sound, WA
It should also be noted that the Texas grid has some of the lowest reserve margins in the country, typically 8% when in some areas 50% is more common. It seems to be set up to fail with more extreme weather events becoming more common. They did not account for the gas going to heat the homes in an extreme cold event, shortchanging the power plants.

Has anyone read Shorting the Grid: The Hidden Fragility of Our Electric Grid by Meredith Angwin?
 
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maple1

Minister of Fire
Sep 15, 2011
10,690
Nova Scotia
If the generator is running, it doesn't need to be winterized. I'm sure the biolers will keep the water quite warm.
Houses with operating heating systems can have pipes freeze and break. Just takes some cold moving air. Which there is all kinds of, outdoors.
 

EatenByLimestone

Minister of Fire
A naval boiler runs at 500F, under pressure. Now tell me how that moving air theory works again?
 

woodgeek

Minister of Fire
Jan 27, 2008
4,311
SE PA
A naval boiler runs at 500F, under pressure. Now tell me how that moving air theory works again?
I dunno, a little moisture in the gas line feeding it fuel condenses and freezes in a valve, and it shuts down?

The makeup water line freezes solid and it shuts down?
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
5,371
Downeast Maine
A naval boiler runs at 500F, under pressure. Now tell me how that moving air theory works again?
The proof is in the pudding, last I checked 70-80 of the power plants went down. When we were living in an RV in NC our second winter the water pipes froze when I shut the tap for more than 30 minutes, during the day. Usually we dripped the taps in the winter to keep the pipes from freezing, but one time I forgot to open the tap back up. It really doesn't take much in an unwinterized system.
 

DuaeGuttae

Minister of Fire
Oct 26, 2016
760
Texas
$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.
We think we might be some of those lucky ones in that there is a fire station down the hill from us, and we have mostly kept power. It is snowing again quite heavily now, and there are warnings that the weather is expected to bring lines down. Most roads to our area are entirely closed.

Monday I went out and raked the snow off of our solar panels and did most of the neighbors' huge array (twice the size of ours). It was a sunny day that day, and we could see that we were feeding power back to the grid. I was surprised to see that we also had surplus power on Tuesday and Wednesday despite pretty thick cloud cover. (Even though we have power, we have closed off a good bit of our house and are doing what we can to conserve. We're rapidly running through the last of our firewood, but we have enough.) Most everybody else we've communicated with in this area seems to be without power and oftentimes without water, but people are helping one another as they can.
 

jetsam

Minister of Fire
Dec 12, 2015
5,038
Long Island, NY
youtu.be
We think we might be some of those lucky ones in that there is a fire station down the hill from us, and we have mostly kept power. It is snowing again quite heavily now, and there are warnings that the weather is expected to bring lines down. Most roads to our area are entirely closed.

Monday I went out and raked the snow off of our solar panels and did most of the neighbors' huge array (twice the size of ours). It was a sunny day that day, and we could see that we were feeding power back to the grid. I was surprised to see that we also had surplus power on Tuesday and Wednesday despite pretty thick cloud cover. (Even though we have power, we have closed off a good bit of our house and are doing what we can to conserve. We're rapidly running through the last of our firewood, but we have enough.) Most everybody else we've communicated with in this area seems to be without power and oftentimes without water, but people are helping one another as they can.
Let me know if you need any tips for picking out standing dead trees to harvest for immediate burning, I've picked up some experience over the years. ;em