Texas Grid Girding for a Blackout Repeat?

December 16, 2022

Yahoo Finance:

Texas is bracing for a blast of arctic conditions just 22 months after a deadly freeze knocked power out for millions of homes and businesses in the Lone Star State.

Temperatures in Odessa, in the heart of Texas’s Permian Basin, are forecast to begin falling Thursday and dip to 25 F (-4 C) by late Friday, according to the National Weather Service. Next week, the central US — including Texas — will be gripped by a bulge in the polar vortex that could challenge regional records that date to 1983, said Tom Kines, a meteorologist with AccuWeather Inc.

Arctic weather poses grave threats to the world’s most-prolific shale field. Because wellheads can freeze and pipeline pumping stations can lose power, a Texas regulator on Thursday urged oil and gas companies to “secure all personnel, equipment, and facilities.”

The longer-term forecast, which is far enough out that it’s liable to change, calls for lows in Dallas to plunge to as low as 8 F next week, while Houston could see temperatures fall to 18 F. It’s part of a weather system that may bring even colder arctic conditions to Chicago — and potentially snow to New York City.

Early signs suggest the latest Texas freeze won’t be quite as bad as the blast that broke the state’s grid in February 2021 — though it will “be close,” Kines said.

High electricity demand

The North American Electric Reliability Corp., a commission responsible for assessing blackout risks, warned Thursday that extreme winter weather could lead to major stresses on Texas’s power grid.

“The effect it can have on generators — and the way demand can rise sharply in cold weather — can lead to load risk,” said Mark Olson, a reliability manager at NERC.

If you watched the video above, you saw Texas Governor Greg Abbott speaking, factually, to local Texas journalists who were on the ground and knew the facts – people he could not bullshit.
Now watch below his appearance, the same day, on Fox News. Compare and contrast.

Below, one reason Texas has been slow to weatherize gas infrastructure is the perverse incentives the ERCOT system provides for Lone Star gas barons. Turns out there’s lots of money to be made in freezing people to death.

Fortune:

The official autopsy of the great Texas winter blackout of February 2021 quickly established a clear timeline of events: Electric utilities cut off power to customers and distributors as well as natural gas producers, which in turn triggered a negative feedback loop that sunk the state deeper and deeper into frigid darkness.

It’s now becoming clear that while millions of Texans endured days of power cuts, the state’s gas producers contributed to fuel shortages, allowing pipelines and traders to profit handsomely off them.

Interviews with energy executives and an analysis of public records by Bloomberg News show that natural gas producers in the Permian shale basin began to drastically reduce output days before power companies cut them off. As the flow of gas cratered, everyone scrambled to secure enough supply, sparking one of the wildest price surges in history. Power producers were forced to pay top dollar in the spot market for whatever gas they could find. Soon customers will be saddled with the bill.

And it’s a big one: The total comes to about $11.1 billion for a storm that lasted for just five days, according to estimates by BloombergNEF analysts Jade Patterson and Nakul Nair. The cost of gas for power generation alone was about $8.1 billion, or 75 times normal levels. A further $3 billion was spent by utilities providing gas for cooking, heating and fireplaces. The BNEF estimate is based on spot prices at major hubs assessed by S&P Global Platts rather than private contracts, so is likely an upper limit of the total cost.

Millions of Texans are now faced with the prospect of paying higher gas prices for years as utilities seek to spread the cost over a decade or more. Texas lawmakers have set aside $10 billion to help natural gas utilities cover their natural gas costs from the storm through low-interest, state

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5 Responses to “Texas Grid Girding for a Blackout Repeat?”

  1. jimbills Says:

    “The longer-term forecast, which is far enough out that it’s liable to change, calls for lows in Dallas to plunge to as low as 8 F next week, while Houston could see temperatures fall to 18 F. It’s part of a weather system that may bring even colder arctic conditions to Chicago — and potentially snow to New York City.”

    What forecast is that? The lowest is I see in Dallas is a low of 21 F on 12/22 on weather.com (Accuweather has that day’s low at 16 F). We’ve seen that plenty of times – it’s nowhere near the freeze we had that caused the blackouts. Accuweather has Houston’s low as 26 F on 12/22, and has Odessa’s low that day as 17 F. Additionally, the problem with the big freeze before was that it lasted for almost a week, whereas I’m seeing lows in this system only lasting 2 days or so.

    Seems a bit too ‘calling wolf’ on this one. But —

    Texas won’t force NG companies to weatherize the wellheads – which was the big problem last time. It’s too expensive. Another proposed solution was to require NG plants stock a multi-day supply of NG – that was also rejected by the Texas Legislature. There won’t be a real solution to massive blackouts in Texas during extended deep freezes without one of those things being done – or until we switch to another power source.


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