PUC says energy providers were not prepared for cold

Posted in Around The State, Energy, Had Enough Yet? at 4:45 pm by wcnews

Today leaders of Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), and the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), were answering questions before the state Senate’s Business and Commerce Committee and the Natural Resources Committee. Here’s the story so far from the FWST, ERCOT chief says planning took place before power outages. The headline is a little misleading. While ERCOT and the PUC thought they had planned for the coming cold weather, those they’re supposed to look after, the energy providers, did not. And Texans paid the price.

Trip Doggett, the CEO of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, said his agency asked generators for extra power ahead of the frigid weather that hit Texas on Feb. 2. But once the storm hit, 82 out of 550 generating systems either shut down or unexpectedly failed to start because they couldn’t handle the cold weather.

“At 10 p.m. the night before, we had committed generation. that was over 60,000 megawatts. If all of that generation had kept running we would have had enough,” Doggett told a packed Senate chamber. “We had more than 8,000 megawatts of generation that either dropped offline or was unable to start.”

Doggett said demand peaked at 57,282 megawatts, but the grid was unable to provide that much. His agency, commonly known as ERCOT, then told utilities to start rolling black outs across the state at 5:43 a.m. Hundreds of thousands of Texans lost power throughout the day because of the rolling power outages.

Doggett testified along with other state officials in front of the state Senate’s Business and Commerce Committee and the Natural Resources Committee. Lawmakers want an explanation for why utilities failed to provide power during the coldest day of the year.

Barry Smitherman, the chairman of the Public Utilities Commission, said the failure was due largely to power plants being unprepared for cold weather. Texas power plants are designed to provide power during hot summers, not cold winters.

Part of the problem is that Texas weatherization regulations for power plants don’t focus on cold weather, Smitherman said. Several brand new power plants experienced cold weather for the first time and key equipment froze. Luminant, a generation company, lost three coal-fired power plants, he said.

“The experience of the operators was non-existent, they didn’t know that parts of those plants were vulnerable,” Smitherman said.

Once the power outages started, the situation was made worse when power was cut to natural gas facilities that fueled power plants, he said.

“When the wires and poles companies were initiating the rolling black outs, they were inadvertently blacking out the natural gas facilities,” Smitherman said. “We need to know exactly where these facilities are and prevent blacking them out.”

Some electrical generators had contracts that allowed natural gas companies to divert gas to homes and away from plants as needed, he said.

So the buffoons that run power plants in Texas don’t know to protect the water pipes when it gets cold? They either really are that stupid or that’s the best excuse these folks could come up with.

The understanding is that the function of ERCOT - the “R” stand for reliability - is to maker sure there is reliable amount of energy. If that didn’t not happen then, obviously, they did not plan well enough. It’s also made clear by Smitherman’s statement that the power plants were unprepared, didn’t plan for, the cold weather.

Over 10 years ago in Texas our elected leaders called off the regulators of our state’s electricity. Deregulation, better known as the “free market”, was going to save us all - money specifically. And that has not happened. All that’s come of this is less competence and more profit, for the corporations. This never used to happen before deregulation in Texas. This will likely only cost consumers, working Texans, more of their hard earned money. And those who caused it will be rewarded. More benefits of Rick Perry’s “Texas Century”.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.