Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Texas Tragedy


The Texas grid got crushed because its operators didn’t see the need to prepare for cold weather

After reading the above article in The Washington Post, I believe that the reason millions of Texans have no electricity to heat their homes during this unprecedented cold snap is simply corporate greed. 

It is a tragedy.

And it could have been prevented. 

Sadly, even in the middle of another crisis where people are dying the urge to obfuscate the truth took over. The Washington Post article reports:

Fossil fuel groups and their Republican allies blamed the power failures on frozen wind turbines and warned against the supposed dangers of alternative power sources. Some turbines did in fact freeze — though Greenland and other northern outposts are able to keep theirs going through the winter.

But wind accounts for just 10 percent of the power in Texas generated during the winter. And the loss of power to the grid caused by shutdowns of thermal power plants, primarily those relying on natural gas, dwarfed the dent caused by frozen wind turbines, by a factor of five or six.

As the cold hit, demand for electricity soared past the mark that ERCOT had figured would be the maximum needed. But at a moment when the world is awash in surplus natural gas, much of it from Texas wells, the state’s power-generating operators were unable to turn that gas into electricity to meet that demand.

In the single-digit temperatures, pipelines froze up because there was some moisture in the gas. Pumps slowed. Diesel engines to power the pumps refused to start. One power plant after another went offline. Even a reactor at one of the state’s two nuclear plants went dark, hobbled by frozen equipment.

In short, nobody prepared for the weather even though the forecasters were "right-on."

Earlier in the article, The Washington Post sums up the problem that occurred in Texas:

What has sent Texas reeling is not an engineering problem, nor is it the frozen wind turbines blamed by prominent Republicans. It is a financial structure for power generation that offers no incentives to power plant operators to prepare for winter. In the name of deregulation and free markets, critics say, Texas has created an electric grid that puts an emphasis on cheap prices over reliable service.

And millions are without power to heat their homes and prepare food while the politicians try to deflect blame.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

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