Friday, February 19, 2021

The Day Hell Froze Over In Texas, Con't

Dangerous deregulation and Republican greed resulted in a catastrophe in Texas as millions remains without power and water as more record low temperatures are headed for the Lone Star State, but the reality is things got so bad this week in Texas that the state's entire power grid almost completely collapsed, and would have been down for several months.

Texas’ power grid was “seconds and minutes” away from a catastrophic failure that could have left Texans in the dark for months, officials with the entity that operates the grid said Thursday.

As millions of customers throughout the state begin to have power restored after days of massive blackouts, officials with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, which operates the power grid that covers most of the state, said Texas was dangerously close to a worst-case scenario: uncontrolled blackouts across the state.

The quick decision that grid operators made in the early hours of Monday morning to begin what was intended to be rolling blackouts — but lasted days for millions of Texans — occurred because operators were seeing warning signs that massive amounts of energy supply was dropping off the grid.

As natural gas fired plants, utility scale wind power and coal plants tripped offline due to the extreme cold brought by the winter storm, the amount of power supplied to the grid to be distributed across the state fell rapidly. At the same time, demand was increasing as consumers and businesses turned up the heat and stayed inside to avoid the weather.

“It needed to be addressed immediately," said Bill Magness, president of ERCOT. “It was seconds and minutes [from possible failure] given the amount of generation that was coming off the system.”

Grid operators had to act quickly to cut the amount of power distributed, Magness said, because if they had waited, “then what happens in that next minute might be that three more [power generation] units come offline, and then you’re sunk.”

Magness said on Wednesday that if operators had not acted in that moment, the state could have suffered blackouts that “could have occurred for months,” and left Texas in an “indeterminately long” crisis.

While generators rapidly dropped off the grid as the weather worsened, operators monitored the difference between the supply of power on the grid and the demand for that power. As supply dwindled and demand grew, the margin narrowed to more and more dangerous levels, forcing grid operators to enact emergency protocols to either increase supply or decrease demand.

The worst case scenario: Demand for power outstrips the supply of power generation available on the grid, causing equipment to catch fire, substations to blow and power lines to go down.

If the grid had gone totally offline, the physical damage to power infrastructure from overwhelming the grid could have taken months to repair, said Bernadette Johnson, senior vice president of power and renewables at Enverus, an oil and gas software and information company headquartered in Austin.

“As chaotic as it was, the whole grid could’ve been in blackout,” she said. “ERCOT is getting a lot of heat, but the fact that it wasn’t worse is because of those grid operators.”
In other words, the rolling blackouts were needed to keep the grid from collapsing entirely, precisely because Texas cut itself off from the national power grid and didn't have the capacity to generate the power needed to keep the lights on for everyone.

Meanwhile, Texas Republicans are continuing to scream about "frozen windmills" when states that actually bother to weatherize their windmills, like Alaska, have no problems keeping them going. Texas's power infrastructure nearly imploded completely because of Republican misrule, and there's a good chance that the state's water infrastructure is now so critically damaged that Texans may be under boil advisories for weeks or months.

You voted for these Republicans, Texas.

You have the power to vote them out. And this is coming from a Kentucky Democrat.

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