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Texans Asked to Conserve Energy After Six Power Plants Go Offline During Heat Wave

Texans Asked to Conserve Energy After Six Power Plants Go Offline During Heat Wave

Electricity supplies aren’t keeping up with demand amid transition to cleaner forms of energy and decaying power infrastructure.

Texans are being asked to cut their electricity use this weekend after six generating plants fell offline in a heat wave.

Record temperatures have pushed up demand for air conditioning, contributing to soaring wholesale prices this week. The call for residents to conserve came after prices soared to more than $4,000 per megawatt hour (MWH) in Houston briefly on Friday afternoon, from less than $6 MWH earlier.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) said six generation plants, providing 2,900 megawatts (MW), tripped offline on Friday afternoon. All of the grid’s generation facilities had resumed operation, Interim ERCOT Chief Executive Brad Jones said in a revised statement.

“We’re asking Texans to conserve power when they can,” Jones said in a statement, asking residents to push up thermostats to 78-degrees Fahrenheit or above (25.5 Celsius) and not run power-consuming appliances during peak hours through the weekend.

Last year, we reported on a similar situation in July. If the Texas grid can’t handle May temperatures, then the summer is going to be long, hot, and dark.

ERCOT officials are making a series of now-familiar pleas.

They’re asking Texans to set their thermostats to 78 degrees or above and avoid the usage of large appliances such as dishwashers, washers and dryers during peak hours between 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. through the weekend.

Demand is currently at 64,000 megawatts, according to ERCOT data, and the dashboard on its website says “there is enough power for current demand.” As of 4 p.m. on Friday, 66% of thermal resources were running, along with 73% of solar and 17% of wind.

Temperatures are forecast at 95 degrees Saturday and 98 degrees Sunday, according to the National Weather Service in Fort Worth. They’re expected to remain in the 90s to 100s through next week.

The power-outs are likely to become more common across the country as energy companies are forced to divert time, money, and talent away from beefing up aging infrastructure to support the green-activist-approved, less reliable power sources.

The risk of electricity shortages is rising throughout the U.S. as traditional power plants are being retired more quickly than they can be replaced by renewable energy and battery storage. Power grids are feeling the strain as the U.S. makes a historic transition from conventional power plants fueled by coal and natural gas to cleaner forms of energy such as wind and solar power, and aging nuclear plants are slated for retirement in many parts of the country.

The challenge is that wind and solar farms—which are among the cheapest forms of power generation—don’t produce electricity at all times and need large batteries to store their output for later use. While a large amount of battery storage is under development, regional grid operators have lately warned that the pace may not be fast enough to offset the closures of traditional power plants that can work around the clock.

Speeding the build-out of renewable energy and batteries has become an especially difficult proposition amid supply-chain challenges and inflation. Most recently, a probe by the Commerce Department into whether Chinese solar manufacturers are circumventing trade tariffs on solar panels has halted imports of key components needed to build new solar farms and effectively brought the U.S. solar industry to a standstill.

The flaming hoops Biden’s federal regulators put up when energy companies want to repair, replace, or enhance current infrastructure aren’t helping, either. And the longer fixes take, the more expensive they become.

The U.S. Department of Energy found that 70% of U.S. transmission lines are more than 25 years old in its last network-infrastructure review in 2015. Lines typically have a 50 year lifespan. The average age of large power transformers, which handle 90% of U.S. electricity flow, is more than 40 years. Transformer malfunctions tend to escalate at about 40 years, according to research by reinsurance provider Swiss Re.

…Upgrading the grid won’t be cheap or easy. Consultancy Marsh & McLennan estimates that more than 140,000 miles of U.S. transmission lines will need to be replaced by 2050, which alone could cost $700 billion. In all, the fixes and upgrades needed to maintain “a transmission system capable of dealing with the nation’s future needs” will cost more than $1 trillion, the 2020 study concluded. A Princeton University study the same year estimated much higher costs – about $2.4 trillion by 2050.

But, to be sure, green energy activists will continue to blame “climate change” and demand even more boutique energy sources be created.


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Typical “green energy” B.S. But I’m sure EV’s will help the situation.

    Cthultists in reply to RickP. | May 15, 2022 at 4:03 am

    I guarantee no electrician would be wearing a coat that heavy in a “heat wave”. Unless the wave was freezing when it would normally be 30 below. Please don’t use stock pics if you have no idea why the men working in them are wearing the protective gear they’re in.

“”They’re asking Texans to set their thermostats to 78 degrees or above””

They need to talk to Walmart. I freeze my tail off every time I go in the store. They must have it set at 65.

    Peabody in reply to txvet2. | May 14, 2022 at 5:59 pm

    I’ll bet you ten bucks the migrant centers don’t have their thermostats set at 78 degrees—can’t take a chance on the baby formula getting stale.

    JohnSmith100 in reply to txvet2. | May 14, 2022 at 6:05 pm

    They are probably trying to sell overstock jackets.

“The challenge is that wind and solar farms—which are among the cheapest forms of power generation”

X – Doubt

Intermittents, renewables, unreliables. How green it is to spread the Green blight.

94.5 (Maine) out today, never above 71 inside the house.
I don’t pay for electricity to use it when it benefits others.

“…more than 140,000 miles of U.S. transmission lines will need to be replaced by 2050, which alone could cost $700 billion.”

Biden: “That’s not a priority. Right now our priority is to send more money to Ukraine. We’ll wait until 2049 to worry about that.”

Reporter: “What if something happens sooner?”

Biden: “I’m not a medium, I can’t foresee the future.”

This might be a good time to try and negotiate a sweet deal on that electric vehicle you never wanted.

    JohnSmith100 in reply to WestRock. | May 14, 2022 at 6:31 pm

    The truth is that an electric vehicle battery can be a significant source of backup power during an outage,I am not going to buy one, but those who do should be prepared to draw power from them.

      markm in reply to JohnSmith100. | May 15, 2022 at 11:31 am

      But have an internal-combustion powered car for when you have to get out of a state that sabotaged it’s own technology and civilization.

JohnSmith100 | May 14, 2022 at 6:34 pm

How about expelling all illegals as a power conservation tactic? Power conservation with benefits.

JohnSmith100 | May 14, 2022 at 6:43 pm

This problem is about incompetent engineering, either due to Affirmative hires or allowing even more incompetent politicians to run things.

Several problems with this story:
1) Because ERCOT does not want federal jurisdiction, it has cut itself off from out-of-state generation. So, all Texas electricity must be generated within Texas.
2) Wind and solar do not require batteries. One could operate a grid that has wind and solar, but uses gas-fired generation as “spinning reserves” to ramp up and down as load and production fluctuates.
3) As a new wind or solar project is built, it is not in the same place as existing generating plants and associated transmission lines. Frequently only enough transmission capacity is built to connect the new wind or solar project to the nearest point on the grid. This does not mean that there will be sufficient transmission capacity for the new green project to be able to reach every point on the Texas Grid.
4) With the exception of a tiny part of West Texas, all of Texas is covered by ERCOT, which is outside of federal regulation. So, none of the comments about federal regulation or the Biden Administration are relevant to this article. To the extent that electric utilities are located outside Texas, they are regulated by state commissions and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) which is a non-partisan group independent from the Biden Administration.

    CommoChief in reply to lawgrad. | May 14, 2022 at 8:15 pm

    ‘ERCOT is outside of federal regulation’. Not true. You are somehow ignoring many aspects of the federal Leviathan; in particular the Dept of Energy and the EPA. Not to mention the friendly folks at the IRS…..

    Solar and wind have huge reliability issues; they can’t provide power 24/7/365. The shortfall, usually at peak demand, requires purchase of power from the open market at insane prices. The better alternative is to require these operators to have sufficient battery back up or coal / Nat gas fired plants on site to replace the shortfall in wind solar, which would ensure reliable delivery of power. Of course, the latter would be expensive and make solar wind redundant while battery tech doesn’t exist to meet a standalone reliability requirement.

      txvet2 in reply to CommoChief. | May 15, 2022 at 1:39 am

      Last year ERCOT request permission from DOE (get that? We can’t ramp up capacity without permission from the Mommies in DC) to ramp up backup NG capacity prior to the hard freeze. DOE refused permission. Yes, it’s documented.

        markm in reply to txvet2. | May 15, 2022 at 11:52 am

        The battery tech exists in a sense – just stack hundreds of thousands of the units already designed and in use for telephone company backup power and electric cars. But batteries cost much more than the equivalent power backup from fossil-fueled generators and would make solar power far more expensive than any other source.

        Also, the factories we have can’t make 1% of the batteries and controllers needed. To use solar power and batteries as the primary power source, we’d have to build a whole new industry to make the battery packs. I suspect the best choice would be 19th century technology – the Edison battery, which requires neither toxic metals like lead or cadmium nor rare substances like lithium, and does not wear out from a daily charge/discharge cycle. In megawatt-hour sizes, they’d be pretty expensive, but at least we’d not have to prospect for more lithium mines all over the globe or replace all the batteries every 3 years or so.

    txvet2 in reply to lawgrad. | May 15, 2022 at 1:35 am

    You don’t know WTF you’re talking about.

    healthguyfsu in reply to lawgrad. | May 15, 2022 at 3:34 am

    you could have saved yourself a lot of time by just writing

    green cult and federal control –> good
    texas, independence –> bad

    And I’d point out the fallacy by example in your long cult rant by pointing to greenie, fed loving Cali and all of their energy problems as why you are full of shit.

    Your kind tried this with the winter energy problem and got shot down. Recycling the same garbage doesn’t fool anyone with half a brain and a decent attention span.

    IndianaGuy in reply to lawgrad. | May 15, 2022 at 7:20 am

    Couple of things here (I work for a power utility):
    2) Wind and solar do practically nothing to reduce the need for fossil generation without short term battery storage. The peak load happens around 7-9 am and 3-6 pm. Peak solar generation is around 11-2, and wind of course is unpredictable, but neither are any good for the morning peak. So fossil-fueled generation is needed for the entire peak load unless wind/solar have battery storage that can store until the peak load hits.

    4) The Federal EPA still can (and does) make it harder and harder to keep coal & gas generation running, and impossible to build profitable coal/gas generation.

      oldvet50 in reply to IndianaGuy. | May 15, 2022 at 10:01 am

      Plus the wind and solar is very polluting! Since it varies in output constantly (a bad thing), the fossil fueled plants must constantly ramp up and down to keep steady state. The most pollution is generated when under ramp up (picture a semi starting from a traffic light).

While Governor Rick Perry spent all the money on wind mills instead of upgrading the electrical infrastructure. So Perry gets a lot of the blame in this.

We need 2 new reactors a the existing power plants

We need fossil fuels not wind mills, not only inefficient BUT MURDERs our birds including the American eagle

    txvet2 in reply to gonzotx. | May 15, 2022 at 1:42 am

    Effectively, we have pretty much all of the NG power capacity we need but we aren’t allowed to use it. For crying out loud, we produce (or are capable of producing) so much NG we could pretty much power the whole country. The problem is bureaucrats.

The destructive, real-world consequences of idiotic, halcyon-tinged “green” scheming. It sounds great on paper, but, once implemented in reality, the apparatchiks’ schemes get innocent people killed. And, the Dumb-o-crats want to replicate this foolishness, nationwide.

The problem with the TX grid is competition. When you de-regulate and only build generation when it is profitable to do so, you guarantee shortages because that is where the price goes up! Simple economics, which is why the electricity market was designed the way it was from inception.

    CommoChief in reply to oldvet50. | May 15, 2022 at 11:34 am

    The solution is to impose reliability standards that require entities bidding to supply x amount of power to deliver it themselves. Aligning consumer interests and producer interests solves the problem.

      oldvet50 in reply to CommoChief. | May 16, 2022 at 7:46 am

      You can only bid to supply energy if you already have generators. What is the incentive to build NEW generation. If I owned a fleet of generation that were aged out, or say, shut down by the EPA, why would I go to the expense of building new when I know the prices will go up now that electricity is scarce? If I am not in the market as a producer and I see prices that are high, I know if I build new, at great expense, prices will come down so I will have a hard time recouping my investment.

        CommoChief in reply to oldvet50. | May 16, 2022 at 12:28 pm

        Place the onus on the providers to meet 90% of the power they claim to be able to generate. So a wind farm or solar farm would be required to deliver the power they have contracted to supply. They would be on the hook to purchase power at huge prices or have sufficient capacity from more reliable sources; coal/Nat gas, to deliver the electricity.

        Users don’t care where the power comes from, they want the lights to work at a reasonable price. ERCOT is charged with ensuring that happens and they have failed. Some of the blame falls on EPA and environmental lobby but the proposal I outlined requiring reliability of delivery would solve the issue.

JackinSilverSpring | May 15, 2022 at 12:10 pm

Of all the places in the US, Texas is one of those I would least expect to have been suckered in to windmills and solar panels to generate trivial and unreliable amounts of electricity. Yet here we are. Why aren’t the governor and the legislature putting the kibosh on this nonsense and demanding of ERCOT that fossil fuel generation plants and/or atomic power plants be built? Furthermore, if ERCOT is unresponsive, then some other office must be found to oversee power generation in Texas.