Tag Archives: Rolling blackout

Failure to Operate

Remember the rolling blackouts? Today, the Senate hauled up the public utilities and several commissions up to testify at the Capitol. We wonder how they’ll explain away our reliance on fossil fuels to carry us through the 21st century:

From the Austin American Statesman:

The storm knocked more than 80 of the state 550 generators offline, according to early explanations, primarily because of frozen or broken equipment, including safety instruments that shut down some of the state’s largest, newest coal-fired plants.

Luminant has reported that the blackouts cost the company $30 million when several of its generating plants broke down, forcing it to buy electricity on the open market, where prices rose from $50 per megawatt-hour to $3,000 .

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the POTUS Responds

Check out the (POTUS) President of the United States’ official statement on the blackouts:

According to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, these blackouts were actually the result of extreme cold temperatures and high winds, which led to a variety of mechanical failures at more than 50 power plants around the state.

Anytime communities experience major outages, it is a cause for concern, and major utilities and regulators are investigating steps that can be taken to decrease any weather related vulnerability of power generating plants in the state that, unlike their northern counterparts which experience extreme cold every winter, are often not designed to withstand such rare weather conditions.

Some are trying to blame these blackouts — which the industry has already provided explanation for — on Clean Air Act standards under consideration to curb dangerous pollution, including carbon pollution. While these claims gained traction on the internet, there is a major problem with this theory — no power plant in Texas has yet been required to do anything to control carbon pollution.

Woah there…you mean powerplants that are over thirty years old are subject to mechanical failures? But…but…they were supposed to be unsinkable energy-producing Titanics!

-Flavia de la Fuente, Conservation Organizer

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Wind Power Keeping the Lights on in Texas

Vestas wind turbine, Dithmarschen.

Image via Wikipedia

Guess who’s keeping the lights on in Texas? Wind power. Check out this statement released by the American Wind Energy Association. The blackouts demonstrate the unreliability of coal power and the importance of building more and more energy efficiency and conservation measures into our systems.

How’s that for grid reliability?

Many parts of the Texas experienced rolling blackouts today, coinciding with unusually cold temperatures across many parts of the state. Millions of customers statewide appear to have been affected. Here are the facts as they are currently understood:

· Wind energy played a major role in keeping the blackouts from becoming more severe. Between 5 and 7 A.M. this morning (the peak of the electricity shortage) wind was providing between 3,500 and 4,000 MW, roughly the amount it had been forecast and scheduled to provide. That is about 7% of the state’s total electricity demand at that time, or enough for about 3 million average homes.

· Cold and icy conditions caused unexpected equipment failures at power plants, taking up to 50 fossil-fired power plants totaling 7,000 MW of capacity offline.

· The cold temperatures caused electric heating demand to exceed the demand expected for this time of year. Many fossil and nuclear power plants take planned outages during non-summer months for maintenance, since electric demand is usually lower during these periods than in the summer.

· The cold temperatures led to very high demand for natural gas for heating purposes, which may have strained the ability of the natural gas pipeline and distribution system to meet both these heating needs and the need to supply natural gas power plants (Texas obtains about half of its electricity by burning natural gas, and gas power plants account for about 70% of the state’s generating capacity).

“While we are still learning about what happened today, this weather event clearly demonstrates the importance of developing and maintaining a diverse energy portfolio that is not overly dependent on any one energy source,” said Michael Goggin, Manager of Transmission Policy, American Wind Energy Association. “This experience shows just how valuable a clean, affordable and homegrown energy source like wind can be in contributing to a reliable electric system.”

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) is the national trade association of America’s wind industry, with more than 2,500 member companies, including global leaders in wind power and energy development, wind turbine manufacturing, component and service suppliers, and the world’s largest wind power trade show. AWEA is the voice of wind energy in the U.S., promoting renewable energy to power a cleaner, stronger America. Look up information on wind energy at AWEA’s website. Find insight on the industry on our blog, Into the Wind, join us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter.

-Posted by Flavia de la Fuente, Conservation Organizer

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