Texas was ‘seconds and minutes’ away from power outages of ‘months’, says ERCOT CEO – tech2.org

Texas was ‘seconds and minutes’ away from power outages of ‘months’, says ERCOT CEO


Texas was “seconds and minutes” away from “month-long” power outages, the embattled ERCOT CEO said Thursday as he defended continued grid blackouts.

A week of freezing temperatures took about a third of the state’s generating capacity offline, resulting in the largest forced blackout in U.S. history and exposing the weaknesses of Texas’s single approach to management. from the electrical network.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, operates the electrical grid that covers most of the state and was behind the decision to have continuous blackouts that left up to 4 million people enduring blackouts in freezing temperatures.

Its chief executive, Bill Magness, told The Texas Tribune on Thursday that if the operators had not acted “immediately” by implementing them Monday morning, the state would have faced an “indeterminately long” power crisis.

Said: ‘It was seconds and minutes [from possible failure] given the amount of generation that was coming out of the system. ‘

Texas was 'seconds and minutes' away from power outages of 'months' Bill Magness, pictured, ERCOT's chief executive said Thursday as he defended continued grid outages.

Texas was ‘seconds and minutes’ away from power outages of ‘months’ Bill Magness, pictured, ERCOT’s chief executive said Thursday as he defended continued grid outages.

A week of freezing temperatures took about a third of the state’s generating capacity offline, resulting in the largest forced blackout in U.S. history and exposing the weaknesses of Texas’s unique approach to management. from the power grid. Texas cities are shown on January 31 with power and then on February 16 without

Energy officials had seen large amounts of supply fall off the grid as temperatures dropped enough to freeze natural gas supply lines and stop wind turbines from spinning.

Low temperatures also caused Texans to turn on their heaters, including many inefficient electrical ones. Demand skyrocketed to levels normally seen only on the hottest days of summer, when millions of air conditioners are running at full throttle.

Magness added: ‘What happens in the next minute could be three more [power generation] drives disconnect and then you’re down. ‘

Houston, Texas: Donated water is distributed to residents Thursday.  A water crisis was also unfolding after Texas officials ordered 7 million people to boil tap water before drinking it.

Houston, Texas: Donated water is distributed to residents Thursday. A water crisis was also unfolding after Texas officials ordered 7 million people to boil tap water before drinking it.

Houston, Texas: A person carries empty propane tanks Thursday, taking them to refill at a propane gas station after winter weather caused power outages.

Houston, Texas: A person carries empty propane tanks Thursday, taking them to refill at a propane gas station after winter weather caused power outages.

Texans were beginning Thursday to see power restored.

But the storm has killed at least 15 people across the state; In the Houston area, a family died of carbon monoxide while their car was stopped in their garage.

A 75-year-old woman and her three grandchildren died in a fire that authorities said could have been caused by a fireplace they were using.

And Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has accused ERCOT of misleading the public with messages that the network was ready for the storm.

Angry Texans are also demanding answers after power producers were warned their equipment would not withstand a cold snap.

After the state’s last major freeze, during the 2011 Super Bowl held in Arlington, Texas, a federal analysis found that power producers’ procedures for winterizing their equipment were ‘inadequate or not properly followed’ in many cases.

Wylie, Texas: Residents displaced by severe winter weather this week take shelter in a school

Wylie, Texas: Residents displaced by severe winter weather this week take shelter in a school

Austin, Texas - Shopper walks past an empty shelf as people stock up on necessities at the HEB store Thursday.  Winter Storm Uri has brought historic cold weather and power outages to Texas as storms hit 26 states.

Austin, Texas – Shopper walks past an empty shelf as people stock up on necessities at the HEB store Thursday. Winter Storm Uri has brought historic cold weather and power outages to Texas as storms hit 26 states.

Killeen, Texas: Vehicles stopped heading south on Interstate 35 Thursday

Killeen, Texas: Vehicles stopped heading south on Interstate 35 Thursday

In defense of the grid, Bernadette Johnson, Enverus ‘senior vice president of energy and renewables, told The Tribune:’ As chaotic as it was, the entire grid could have been in a blackout. ERCOT is getting a lot of heat, but the fact that it wasn’t worse is due to those network operators.

“The operators who took those actions to avoid a catastrophic blackout and much worse damage to our system, that was, I would say, the most difficult decision that had to be made during this entire event.”

But Ed Hirs, an energy fellow at the University of Houston, rejected ERCOT’s claim that this week’s freeze was unpredictable. “That’s nonsense,” he said. “Every eight or ten years we have really bad winters. This is not a surprise.’

Texas has a network largely disconnected from others to avoid federal regulation.

That means it is not tied to other states, and therefore cannot borrow power from them, a system the state put in place to avoid federal regulation.

The single system, which bypasses regulation in favor of market incentives, now faces backlash for allowing power generators to sidestep preparations for a winter storm that occurs once in a decade.

Ongoing blackouts are usually triggered when stocks drop below a certain level.

Grid operators say progressive blackouts are a last resort when demand for power outstrips supply and threatens to create a broader collapse of the entire electrical system.

ERCOT operates the power grid that covers most of the state and was behind the decision to have continuous blackouts that left up to 4 million people enduring outages in freezing temperatures. Houston is photographed from space during blackouts

Generally, utilities lock down certain blocks or zones before shutting off power to another area and then another. Often times, areas with hospitals, fire stations, water treatment plants, and other key facilities are spared.

With blackouts, no neighborhood is supposed to go unfairly long without power, but that wasn’t always the case this week in Texas.

Some areas never lost power, while others were left off for 12 hours or more when temperatures dropped to single digits.

Hundreds of thousands of people in Texas woke up Thursday to a fourth day without power.

A water crisis was also unfolding after Texas officials ordered 7 million people to boil tap water before drinking it.

The latest collapse sparked mounting outrage and demands for answers about how Texas, whose Republican leaders mocked California as recently as last year over blackouts in the Democratic-led state, failed such a massive test of a major point of pride. state: energy independence.

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