Texas Grid Updates 02/16/21

February 16, 2021

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Jesse Jenkins PhD on Twitter:

Morning. The #TexasFreeze continues & grid operator ERCOT is still reporting >31,000 MW of thermal generation capacity out as of 9AM CT. Down slightly from a peak of 34,000 MW reported yesterday afternoon (ercot.com/news/releases/…) but still >40% of thermal capacity in state!

Wind power is currently producing about 4,000 MW, or 2/3 of the ~6,000 MW that ERCOT was counting on wind to contribute during winter peaking events. Solar is coming online now and helping during daytime, exceeding the <300 MW it is counted on for in system planning.

Main story continues to be the failure of thermal power plants — natural gas, coal, and nuclear plants — which ERCOT counts on to be there when needed. They’ve failed. Of about 70,000 MW of thermal plants in ERCOT, ~25-30,000 MW have been out since Sunday night. Huge problem. 

ERCOT started directing electric utilities (like Oncor or Austin Electic) to start rolling blackouts or involuntary emergency load shedding at 1:25am on Monday morning, with 10,500 MW shed during that late morning. That’s ~2 million homes worth of load

Throughout Monday, many thermal power plants remained offline, as freeze-offs + fuel shortages in gas pipelines forced large numbers of natural gas plants offline.

Many coal plants likely struggled as well w/frozen coal piles, but breakdown of thermal outages by fuel type unclear.

1 nuclear reactor at South Texas Station (STS-1) also failed yesterday, NRC data confirms. That’s 1,280 MW of lost capacity also (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Tex…)
nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc…

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In short, ALL generation types are getting hammered.
This is an equal opportunity “clusterfuzzle” as @gmbutts put it. So put aside your technology favoratism and tech tribalism for today please! In sheer numbers, natural gas-fired units are largest thermal capacity in Texas, accounting for ~56,000 MW or 66% of total capacity ERCOT was planning to have available during winter peaking events. The large majority of outages during this event are also at gas-fired plants.

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This #TexasFreeze event is FAR outside what ERCOT planned for. Their 2020/2021 Winter Resource Adequacy Assessment estimated a worst case scenario “Extreme Pead Load/Extremee Generation Outages” scenario that included 13,953 MW of total thermal outages ⤵️

ercot.com/content/wcm/li…

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So in sum, total thermal generation outages of 25,000-30,000+ MW during the past 36 hours are more than DOUBLE what ERCOT considered an “Extreme Generation Outages During Extreme Peak Load” event! That is where the disaster is stemming from. (Wind underperformance is secondary). Additionall, ERCOT predicted a seasonal peak demand of 57,699 MW with a “Extreme Peak Load” scenario adding 9,509 MW to that, for a total “extreme” scenario of 67,208 MW. 

Reality: On Sunday night, ERCOT recorded a new peak winter 69,150 Megawatts between 6 and 7 p.m on 2/14! 

2 Responses to “Texas Grid Updates 02/16/21”


  1. In fairness, if I were planning for Texas winter power supplies, I might not have considered the “ENTIRE STATE GOES SUBZERO” scenario either.

    • greenman3610 Says:

      I think that’s fair, but hurricanes happen, and not having access to
      the wider grid is inexcusable – and only happening because the energy
      barons of Texas decreed that they would not be subject to Federal
      regulation.
      Obviously, a changing climate challenges us to rethink priors.


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