Friday, February 26, 2021

O Happy Day

 Apparently the Texas Lege met to talk on camera about who was responsible for the power debacle of 2021.  Not how to solve it or make sure it never happens again, but who to blame.

What, you think Trump invented that kind of governmental ineptitude?

But according to ERCOT, we've found the problem:The grid that covers most of Texas lost an extraordinary amount of power, about 52,000 megawatts, Magness said. That’s enough to power more than 10 million Texas homes at peak demand. The loss stayed near those extreme levels for days due to power plants’ inability to restart as temperatures remained below freezing in large swaths of Texas, making what should have been short, rotating outages into a days-long crisis.

“In other events when we’ve had rotating outages, like in 2011, the ability of generation to come back didn’t take nearly as long,” he said. 

The amount of demand on the grid could have climbed to more than 70,000 megawatts on Feb. 15 if outages had not been implemented, ERCOT estimates. But that day, supply fell rapidly to fewer than 50,000 megawatts. It’s imperative to keep the electrical grid balanced — otherwise, Texas could have risked uncontrolled blackouts that may have lasted weeks, if not months, officials said.


All forms of energy — natural gas, wind, coal and nuclear plants — experienced outages last week.

Natural gas generation was particularly challenged, data shows: Outages from natural gas plants spiked from around 11,000 megawatts to near 25,000 megawatts in the early hours of Feb. 15. The inability of gas-fired power plants to get enough fuel was also a much more severe problem last week than during the 2011 storm, according to ERCOT’s data.

“If you don’t have natural gas fuel, you can’t run a natural gas plant,” Magness said. “We saw a lot of fuel issues in the system.”

There was loose talk about windmills again; but Texas is not going to order windmills be dismantled.  In fact, if Texas does anything, it will be full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.  Because the system worked as designed.

But at least we know what actually went wrong. And we know why it went wrong. Which is why we also know nothing will be done about it.

It seems the Texas Public Utility Commission, not power generators, raised the price of electricity in Texas to $9000 a megawatt hour. They did it because the computer that was supposed to regulate prices for them failed. They did it in a six-minute emergency meeting. They did it to give the producers of electricity incentive to produce more electricity. That didn’t work because the incentive didn’t include natural gas to fuel the generators, because the equipment was frozen, because the gas couldn’t be delivered or burned, because the market didn’t incentivize anyone to prepare for winter.

And they did it because this is how the system the Legislature set up was designed to work. So the fact is, nothing went wrong. We designed it to work this way, and we got what we asked for.

O happy day.

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