Energy Central is an online community for global power professionals searching for information, products and services related to the energy industry. Energy Central helps the Power Industry work better!

Post

Texas, ERCOT, and Winter Storm Outages: An End-of-Week Review from Energy Central Community Members

Posted to Energy Central in the Utility Management Group

image credit: Dreamstime: 106758283

For members of the utility community, the past week has been a hectic one to say the least as power providers in Texas struggled to ensure their customers would keep or regain electricity, thought leaders elsewhere looked on in horror trying to debate and get to the bottom of why the outages were so severe and what could have been done to prevent it, and the industry as a whole looks forward to ensuring such a widespread occurrence doesn’t happen again.

With such a critical and timely event unfolding in real-time, the Energy Central Community was understandably abuzz sharing their insights, perspectives, and ideas. We had community members new and old hopping into the platform to share the latest information, and with voices coming from within the utility leaders of the day you know you were getting an unbeatable view of the situation.

But with such a rapidly-developing situation, it’s not always easy to keep up with the latest news. So now at the end of the week, as power is coming back for most Texans, I thought it might be valuable to build a compendium of some of the best and most valuable ‘must-read’ content put out by Energy Central Community Members.

I invite you to read through the following articles to get a good snapshot about what utility leaders have been thinking throughout this crisis, and don’t forget to scroll down to the comments in each article that showcase some of the vigorous discussion and debate that this hot topic has inspired.

And, of course, keep sharing your insights in new posts, links, and comments—this situation is far from over and we need the industry’s best minds put together to help solve these issues moving forward.

 

Matt Chester

Energy Central Community Manager

 

Predictions and Outlooks from Before the Storm

Of course before the situation really got off the ground, some of our most forward looking community members foresaw trouble ahead and shared some thoughts and concerns.

Epic cold snap to test U.S. power grid by Kent Knutson

Texas grid operator braces for record electric demand, warns generators to prepare by Mike Beehler

 

Immediate Reactions to Power Outages and Price Spikes

Then as the state started to get pounded by the weather event and electricity demand spiked, Energy Central Community members reported on the situation on the ground.

Observations on winter electric reliability event in South Central U.S. by Rob Gramlich

Power Prices Skyrocket and Texas Grid Reels with Outages As Winter Storm Pummels Wind and Natural Gas by Rakesh Sharma

Snowstorm Overwhelms Texas and Oklahoma by Henry Craver

 

Debating the Causes—Generation Failure vs. Market Failure?

Of course after ensuring safety and recovery of affected customers, the next most pressing priority is diagnosing what went wrong. There’s no shortage of opinions and debate happening this week, and the Energy Central Community delivered on dissecting this important and complex situation.

What went wrong with the Texas power grid? by Kristen Jaeger

Texas Rolling Blackouts Are Due To Economics, Not Renewables by Richard Brooks

Frozen wind turbines contribute to rolling power blackouts across Texas by Bob Meinetz

Texas Energy Challenge by Patrick Regan

ERCOT data showed renewable energy is not root cause of grid failure! by Yi Kang

 

How the Situation in Texas May Apply Elsewhere

Some in the community noted that this wasn’t a completely unforeseeable occurrence and in fact it may have happened elsewhere in the country, too.

Texas Today, Who and Where Tomorrow? Action Needed by Llewellyn King

Texas Blackouts by Donn Dears

 

Moving Forward…

Then, of course, it’s important to consider future action to ensure a disaster at this scale doesn’t strike again. Reliable operation of utilities is a bedrock of modern society, and when it can’t be relied upon it creates turmoil, so many a post-mortem will be written on what’s happened this week and plot what can be done to harden systems moving forward. Some of those have already started to be shared in the Energy Central community:

Local Energy Flexibility Markets Part 2: Could They Help with Black Swan Weather Rolling Outage Grid Events? by Stuart McCafferty

Pragmatic Steps for Texas – that will never happen by Doug Houseman

Arctic Attack: The Aftermath by David Rogers

The ERCOT grid failure - why and what should we do next by Bruce Curatola

Discussions

Spell checking: Press the CTRL or COMMAND key then click on the underlined misspelled word.
Alexei Vodopianov's picture
Alexei Vodopianov on Feb 22, 2021

Thanks for your updates. Lots of people want to know what actually happened in Texas. I think it is time when the authorities have to recognize that fossil fuel has to work along with RE at this moment. It has greatly surprised me that the US President has banned oil production. Perhaps he did not consult engineers or overestimated the possibilities of the RE. The UK Prime Minister has set up 10 years plan for the total energy transition and I think it was the right move for the UK RE development and preparation

Julian Silk's picture
Julian Silk on Feb 23, 2021

This is going to be a very brief post, because the Texas situation is highly controversial.  Texas passed a renewable portfolio standard a number of years ago, as listed by https://programs.dsireusa.org/system/program/tx.  Texas also has an extensive renewable energy credit program, as in https://comptroller.texas.gov/economy/fiscal-notes/2020/august/ercot.php.  If there was concern that renewable energy would be the culprit in a cold snap, as Texas had cold snaps before (as reported by https://www.fox7austin.com/weather/a-look-back-at-the-past-times-the-arctic-came-to-texas, hardly a liberal propaganda organ), why weren't the programs made conditional on winterizing the renewable energy generation?

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Feb 23, 2021

It's a great question, Julian-- from what I've read, the 'worst case scenario' that ERCOT planned for in generation outage assumed that wind would be out and the rest of the grid would be enough to pick up the slack, but as we know so much of the thermal generation also failed at the same time. I guess the cost/benefit analysis saw such an event as so unlikely as to not be worth the cost, but I'm willing to bet the people of Texas feel differently about that analysis right about now

Michael Keller's picture
Michael Keller on Mar 1, 2021

Texas poured too much money into unreliable (and expensive) green energy at the expense of reliable generation (fossil). That meant the reserve capacity margins were insufficient and not fully prepared because money was foolishly diverted to unreliable and largely unneeded green energy.

The reserve capacity margins are illusionary if unreliable energy is included as part of the margin.

Texas also relies heavily on natural gas from gathering fields to be available to meet demand. The gathering fields experienced a lot of frozen equipment and that directly led to gas shortages as gas was not available to meet pipeline needs.

Bottom line: do-not-put-all-your-eggs-in-one-basket. Those claiming renewable energy can meet all our energy needs are utterly delusional.

Jim Stack's picture
Jim Stack on Mar 2, 2021

Great article Matt, You always have a big open view of all FACTS. From what I read they were advised to spend a little to harden their power plants for bad weather from the last problems a few years back. But they put it off like many home owners and business also seem to do and then had to pay for the failure to act. I hope after 2 big hits they will invest in the ideas this time.

   I also find it very ironic that the Climate Change produces these extreme weather events yet they keep burning fossil fuel like it is a good idea. I would hope they start to see they are the problem now and in the future. 

Get Published - Build a Following

The Energy Central Power Industry Network is based on one core idea - power industry professionals helping each other and advancing the industry by sharing and learning from each other.

If you have an experience or insight to share or have learned something from a conference or seminar, your peers and colleagues on Energy Central want to hear about it. It's also easy to share a link to an article you've liked or an industry resource that you think would be helpful.

                 Learn more about posting on Energy Central »