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Old 02-16-2021, 02:30 PM   #21
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In Texas, apparently, it's not the grid per say. They use windmills to generate about 25% of their power and the dang things froze up! I saw a news report where they were using drones to get the ice off the blades. I'm also hearing that lots of solar panels are OOO, too much snow covering them.
My SIL in San Antonio has frozen sink pipes, both the hot and cold. They finished a major remodel of the house last spring. I'm hoping they don't have major problems to pay for.
The focus on the windmills is somewhat undeserved. According to the state electricity management organization (ERCOT) the wind power output is somewhat above the expected level for this time of year.

Natural gas generation and coal generation are also both down, some due to inadequate planning and more due to bad luck Natural gas that is available has been prioritized to homes and not available for electric plants while the coal piles are frozen (and they don't have the appropriate equipment) so they can't get it to the boilers. Both those issues have as much or more to due with the outages than the windmills.

Texas has been so focused on avoiding national energy regulations that they have maintained a almost completely separate grid. Also, we only build and operate to normal expected loads and have a crisis everytime loads exceed expected demand. Winter or summer, it's too expensive to have excess capability unused, so we just pay the bill anytime there is a problem.
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Old 02-16-2021, 02:33 PM   #22
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In Texas, apparently, it's not the grid per say. They use windmills to generate about 25% of their power and the dang things froze up! I saw a news report where they were using drones to get the ice off the blades. I'm also hearing that lots of solar panels are OOO, too much snow covering them.
My SIL in San Antonio has frozen sink pipes, both the hot and cold. They finished a major remodel of the house last spring. I'm hoping they don't have major problems to pay for.
Best thing to do now is to turn off the water at the meter (if they can or haven't already) and not turn it on until everything warms up. Check for leaks first (puddles) then open all the "sillcocks" as well as an upstairs faucet if there is a bath upstairs. Water will drain out the outside faucets when pipes are thawed.

Close up all and pressure test before turning on main water supply.

Here where I live there are many homes that freeze up when temps drop into the teens. People forget to shut off water supply (at meter is best) and sure enough, when pipes thaw it's "Niagara Fall" down the stairs and out the door.

Hope they are only inconvenienced and don't suffer a lot of damage.
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Old 02-16-2021, 02:53 PM   #23
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In order to freeze natural gas you have to condense it into a liquid. That requires a chilling down to around -290F. It may be cold, but it ain't that cold. Maybe valves are frozen, but not the natural gas.
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Old 02-16-2021, 04:19 PM   #24
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Texas has been so focused on avoiding national energy regulations that they have maintained a almost completely separate grid. Also, we only build and operate to normal expected loads and have a crisis everytime loads exceed expected demand. Winter or summer, it's too expensive to have excess capability unused, so we just pay the bill anytime there is a problem.
And that expected demand certainly exceeded forecasts.

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According to a tweet from the organization, which manages the statewide flow of electric power, Texas set a new record power demand of 69,150 megawatts late Sunday. The record is more than 3,200 megawatts higher than the previous record set in 2018.

(One megawatt can power about 200 homes during periods of peak demand.)
With 2 million homes in Texas without power I'd say that they've found the limit of their system.

Also, even if Texas was connected to the national power grid, what states have power to spare considering how widespread the cold is?

Unfortunately the only way to determine if "the chain has any weak links" is to just put maximum load on it. Clearly a weak link in Texas has been revealed.

As for "heads will roll", planning strategies can only take into consideration historical factors and best guesses what will happen in the future.

Dams and levees are built based on historical knowledge of river flows and flooding. Power grids and generation capabilities are designed in the same manner. Who here would have predicted the extreme cold covering almost the entire state of Texas?

Look at McAllen, TX. Average Feb Temps are 75/52 F. Thursday it's forecasted to be 47/28 F.
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Old 02-17-2021, 01:40 PM   #25
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My understanding is none of the natural gas infrastructure has been prepped for the temperatures Texas is seeing. Between that and the power grid not being connected to other states for shared power they have a major problem. Natural gas contains water which condenses and freezes in un-insulated regulators, valves and orifices.

Those blaming wind power for the electric failure have no idea of what they are talking about. Wind generators have gear boxes filled with gear oil for lubrication. If the wind generators are lubricated with the wrong type of lubricant needed for the temperatures they are experiencing they will slow down enough that they can not generate sufficient power, or they may even stop altogether.

Here in Minnesota and Wisconsin we are having temperatures in the single digits and below for days at a time, our wind generators are working as well as any other time of the year. Our wind generators have heaters in the turbine room to keep the temperatures stable, these heaters are powered by the same source that energize the stator windings until the generator starts producing. They are just like the alternator in your car or truck as they need a small amount of power to start the generation process. Until today we have not been above 12*F since 11 days ago, seven days of those were low single digits or below. Today, we are in the 20's, this weekend we are supposed to reach the low 30's. Woo woo, heat wave!
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Old 02-17-2021, 01:57 PM   #26
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Thats way too hot.
67 degrees is the perfect temp
I agree. 67F is ideal for me. And preferably cloudy.
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Old 02-17-2021, 01:59 PM   #27
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In Texas, apparently, it's not the grid per say. They use windmills to generate about 25% of their power and the dang things froze up! I saw a news report where they were using drones to get the ice off the blades. I'm also hearing that lots of solar panels are OOO, too much snow covering them.
My SIL in San Antonio has frozen sink pipes, both the hot and cold. They finished a major remodel of the house last spring. I'm hoping they don't have major problems to pay for.
I saw the same.... blaming windmills for their problems. Natural gas valves froze, diesel generators stopped runing, even a Nuke plant had to shut down. Moisture in natural gas lines is shutting down power generation plants, all while there is maximum demand. Blaming wind farms begs the question of why wind farms everywhere else (North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, etc), including these in Colorado, don't have problems.
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Old 02-17-2021, 02:29 PM   #28
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Engineers can design systems that will work in just about all extremes but somewhere along the line bean counters will step in. And rightly so in most cases. If the grid in Texas were designed to withstand the winters of Siberia and the summers of Death Valley the price of electricity would be a bit higher. Consequently things are designed to operate within expected parameters. Unfortunately nature did not read the design specs.
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Old 02-17-2021, 02:30 PM   #29
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I saw the same.... blaming windmills for their problems. Natural gas valves froze, diesel generators stopped runing, even a Nuke plant had to shut down. Moisture in natural gas lines is shutting down power generation plants, all while there is maximum demand. Blaming wind farms begs the question of why wind farms everywhere else (North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, etc), including these in Colorado, don't have problems.
Also why in colder climates, natural gas valves don’t freeze, either.? We have plenty cold weather in the upper midwest, where natural gas pipes, valves, regulators, gas meters, and propane tanks are sitting outside year ‘round. I’ve never heard of anything involving natural gas ever freezing.
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Old 02-17-2021, 02:43 PM   #30
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Also why in colder climates, natural gas valves don’t freeze, either.? We have plenty cold weather in the upper midwest, where natural gas pipes, valves, regulators, gas meters, and propane tanks are sitting outside year ‘round. I’ve never heard of anything involving natural gas ever freezing.
Link is below...

"While other states invest more in equipment that helps prevent freeze-offs, Texas hasn’t seen the need. North Dakota typically sees 20 days a year with freeze-off events, while the Permian Basin would normally have just four days a year with freeze-offs disrupting gas production, according to BTU Analytics."

https://www.theverge.com/2021/2/17/2...outages-frozen
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Old 02-17-2021, 02:47 PM   #31
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We had free gas direct from our own wells growing up, it would randomly freeze off at the well head in cold, sunny weather due to condensation. We added dryers and accumulators, etc.

One angle here that isn't getting much press because no one wants it to be known.. many large companies and the gov have data centers in Texas due to the independence of that grid and the variety of power generation it provides at low cost. The separation from the East Coast grids is a selling point. My employer does this, but we also have a back up hot site on another grid. Others don't go to this expense, my local state farm agent has been without software systems two days now due to Texas...
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Old 02-17-2021, 03:01 PM   #32
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Yep, Texas has effect many systems on the east coast. Our credit union is down.
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Old 02-17-2021, 04:56 PM   #33
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Texas was not prepared. Dont blame solar and wind as its less than 10% of their energy source. Blame the people responsible.
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Old 02-18-2021, 12:49 AM   #34
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Ten year ago, February 2011, the federal energy commission warned the Electric Reliability Council of Texas that Power Plants had failed to adequately weatherize facilities. The same thing had happened 30 years ago. Can't blame that on wind and solar farms.

First thing when this mess cleans up, we're having a transfer switch installed that will allow use a generator to power the house and disconnect from a non functioning grid. Then a dual fuel generator is on our list. We have a medically fragile family member and obviously can't rely on Texas to keep them warm or keep medical equipment functioning.
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Old 02-18-2021, 01:21 PM   #35
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Ten year ago, February 2011, the federal energy commission warned the Electric Reliability Council of Texas that Power Plants had failed to adequately weatherize facilities. The same thing had happened 30 years ago. Can't blame that on wind and solar farms.

First thing when this mess cleans up, we're having a transfer switch installed that will allow use a generator to power the house and disconnect from a non functioning grid. Then a dual fuel generator is on our list. We have a medically fragile family member and obviously can't rely on Texas to keep them warm or keep medical equipment functioning.
Capitalism meet deregulation. Giving the profits to investors and top management at the expense of infrastructure will eventually bite the people. When mother nature gets involved everyone suffers with the elderly and lower income earners being hit the hardest.

Large cities still have some power while cutting off outlying areas through rolling blackouts. Money is already being sent from the federal government but it is going to pad profits for investors and not where it is needed most.
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Old 02-18-2021, 01:25 PM   #36
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I thank my wife for allowing me to spend a little money to get our house ready in case Wisconsin gets hit by these conditions. We are colder and have more snow but our houses and businesses are built for crap weather. I can run my furnace and a bunch of led lights with my 2000 watt inverter generator running on eco mode. Last night was the first time in 10 days that we had a low that was above Zero. We had 7 days at -20 according to my weather station in the back yard.
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Old 02-18-2021, 01:30 PM   #37
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In Texas, around 10% of their power is generated by wind, but it accounts for about 90% of the explanations for why the power grid is down.

Texans have opted for years to go on the cheap. They refuse to be part of the national power grid. They do not insulate anything. They have uninsulated water pipes in the ceiling of their houses in a lot of the state. Now they are paying the price for their short-sightedness. Meanwhile the official local government response tends to be "sorry you are on your own."
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Old 02-18-2021, 01:34 PM   #38
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What's happening in Texas is pretty much the result of how many people think. Both in utility management and personal lives.

How many times have we heard or read on forums the statement "I've never had that problem before, I see no reason to spend more money than necessary now".

Those who told the Texas power utility to "Winterize" probably just said "Why, we've never had that problem before".

Sadly, after things warm up and power systems are back online, the managers will just say "this was a once in a lifetime event and we won't see it happen again" and like always, nothing will change.

Unfortunately if Texas is forced to tie into the grid and fall under Fed Regulation, will the system be any more reliable? With that oversight I'm sure costs to the Utility and Consumers will go up. Might be better for voters in Texas to just build a fire and "toast the chestnuts" of those responsible without outside intervention.
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Old 02-18-2021, 01:58 PM   #39
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I live in NM close to El Paso TX which is on a different grid than most of Texas and controlled by El Paso Electric Co. A lot of NM is also on this grid.
In 2011 we had a 100 year freeze event and saw the same problems the majority of TX is seeing now. The local utilities (water and electric) decided to upgrade facilities to prevent this in the future. All utility owned valve boxes and facilities were insulated. What you did with your house was up to you.
We were on the edge of the current weather event and had 55 hours of far below freezing weather. No problems this time with any utilities. Imagine that.....
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Old 02-18-2021, 01:58 PM   #40
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Who would want to camp in the winter anyway?
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