Published: Sat, February 20, 2021
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What the Texas power outages reveal about the U.S. energy grid

What the Texas power outages reveal about the U.S. energy grid

The National Weather Service was "very surprised how rapidly this storm intensified ... and at the time of night when most people are at home and in bed, it creates a very unsafe situation", Emergency Services Director Ed Conrow said.

Local officials around the state also are taking actions to protect citizens in the wake of the crisis.

Center for Industrial Progress founder Alex Epstein discusses how the reliability of renewable energy was tested in Texas.

But this focus on windmills ignores the evident fact that - as Abbott acknowledged on local TV - every kind of power generation fell short in this storm.

The official said that the main factors were frozen instruments at natural gas, coal, and nuclear facilities, as well as limited supplies of natural gas.

"Gov. Abbott doesn't seem to have a grasp on his state, so here's a reminder: Texas runs 80-90% on fossil fuels".

The Southwest Power Pool, a group of utilities covering 14 states, said the blackouts were "a last resort to preserve the reliability of the electric system as a whole".

Abbott had referred to the Green New Deal, a broad proposal to address climate change that hasn't been implemented in the USA, as a "deadly deal" while discussing outages in his state during an interview with Fox News' Sean Hannity.

Here's how the catastrophe unfolded.

"These are the most unsafe conditions we've ever seen in the history of PGE", said Dale Goodman, director of utility operations, who declined to predict when all customers would have power restored.

"Folks have gone days now without electricity".

Natural gas output also slumped. Yet our government - even in the oil country of Texas, home of Spindletop and the Permian Basin - is created to incentivize renewable energy projects. It is still unclear if Samsung was given enough time to prepare for the power outage. The state has fought hard to keep it the only such grid without federal jurisdiction, according to the Wall Street Journal. With supply so inadequate, ERCOT saw no other choice than to force demand down with a blunt instrument: outages.

The ban prompted a response from officials in Mexico, as United States gas pipeline exports to Mexico fell to 3.8 billion cubic feet per day on Wednesday, down from an average over the past 30 days of 5.7 billion, according to data from Refinitiv.

He's staying with a friend near Austin because his own house doesn't have power.

Experts say this is common, but the way it is handled can affect customers.

Millions of Texans are without power in freezing temperatures, many of them for the last 60 hours. It's not built for high winter demand.

NY governor Andrew Cuomo on Monday ordered emergency services to prepare for sleet, ice and freezing rain. Without it, scrambling for the barest necessities like food, water, and warmth becomes expensive, stressful, and all-consuming.

Castro delivered a similar message in an appearance on MSNBC late Wednesday, declaring, "This is becoming the worst state-level policy disaster since the Flint water crisis". Natural gas for homes is prioritized over fuel for power plants. "Texas would be in an indeterminately long situation without power".

Then there's the question of so-called winterization. At least two people in Texas and at least 20 nationwide were reported to have died as a result of the storm and freezing temperatures.

And then there's another big question: will ERCOT's projections and decisions stand up to scrutiny?

However, the investigations announced thus far seem to aspire "to point fingers rather than find solutions".

The state accounts for roughly one-quarter of USA natural gas production.

Entergy Mississippi said ice accumulating on trees and power lines from Wednesday's winter weather had caused significant outages, saying in an update Thursday morning: "We have not experienced a winter storm of this magnitude in over 25 years". "Because I think this event shows that all generation sources are vulnerable to these extreme events". Intermittency is not a technical problem but a fundamental reality when trying to generate electricity from wind and solar. What's really needed - in Texas and elsewhere - is better preparation.

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