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.DONATE
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