Texas Ignored Warnings on Grid

February 17, 2021


Federal regulators warned Texas that its power plants couldn’t be counted on to reliably churn out electricity in bitterly cold conditions a decade ago, when the last deep freeze plunged 4 million people into the dark.

They recommended that utilities use more insulation, heat pipes and take other steps to winterize plants — strategies commonly observed in cooler climates but not in normally balmy Texas.

“Where did those recommendations go, and how were they implemented?” said Jeff Dennis, managing director of Advanced Energy Economy, an association of clean energy businesses. “Those are going to be some pretty key questions.”

As investigators probe the current power crisis in Texas, which has left millions of people without power or a promise of when it will be restored, questions are sure to be raised about how the state responded to the urgings from the 2011 analysis, issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the North America Electric Reliability Corporation, which sets reliability standards.

The February 2011 incident occurred when an Arctic cold front descended on the Southwest, sending temperatures below freezing for four days in a row. The result was disastrous. Equipment and instruments froze, forcing the shutdown of power plants and rolling blackouts, according to the report.

Moreover, some of the same equipment, the report noted, had failed during previous cold snaps. One in December 1989 prompted the state’s grid operator to resort to system-wide rolling blackouts for the first time.

“Many generators failed to adequately apply and institutionalize knowledge and recommendations from previous severe winter weather events, especially as to winterization of generation and plant auxiliary equipment,” the 2011 report said.

3 Responses to “Texas Ignored Warnings on Grid”

  1. dumboldguy Says:

    Why are we surprised that the Texans have dragged their feet? The need to maximize profits will always drive these leeches until some disaster forces people to pay attention. Boeing 737 Max, massive air pollution from coal plants, for instance. The plus is that the efforts to mitigate this disaster MAY make us more prepared for—-THE COMING GLOBAL SUPERSTORM—read the book and lose some sleep.

    • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

      THE COMING GLOBAL SUPERSTORM—read the book and lose some sleep.

      Oh, hell no.

      I’ll be sticking to escapist fluff until after the pandemic, or at least until after I’m fully vaccinated (which will probably be May or later).

  2. rhymeswithgoalie Says:

    I’m old enough to have lived through the shared experience of a few nationally-viewed broadcast networks, and that “You can pay me now, or pay me later” was a blast from the past.

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