Many blackouts in Texas.

For technical discussions about electricity, electrical equipment with particular emphasis on safe and compliant installations.
Off topic remarks are liable to be moved elsewhere, or in extreme cases to be deleted.
Post Reply
User avatar
adam2
Site Admin
Posts: 8281
Joined: Mon Jul 02, 2007 5:49 pm
Location: North Somerset

Many blackouts in Texas.

Post by adam2 »

As a result of unusually cold weather increasing electricity demand.
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-56095479

Gas, oil, coal or wood burning heat is rare as conditions seldom require it. Portable electric heaters or electric heat fitted to air conditioning system is the norm.
AFAIK the intention was to cut off power on a rota basis, but this has not worked very well.
"Installers and owners of emergency diesels must assume that they will have to run for a week or more"
User avatar
adam2
Site Admin
Posts: 8281
Joined: Mon Jul 02, 2007 5:49 pm
Location: North Somerset

Re: Many blackouts in Texas.

Post by adam2 »

The Mayor of one affected town has had to resign after stating that "the strong will survive and the weak will perish" in the ongoing power outages.
Probably true, but a bit tactless to put it that bluntly.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-56100743
"Installers and owners of emergency diesels must assume that they will have to run for a week or more"
kenneal - lagger
Site Admin
Posts: 12589
Joined: Wed Sep 20, 2006 2:35 am
Location: Newbury, Berkshire
Contact:

Re: Many blackouts in Texas.

Post by kenneal - lagger »

Trump supporters claiming that renewables are to blame for the failure but the power company says that it was natural gas freezing in the pipes and in the ground that was the problem. In reality it would seem that it was a lack of preparation for extreme cold weather that was the cause of the power breakdown.
Action is the antidote to despair - Joan Baez
User avatar
BritDownUnder
Posts: 880
Joined: Wed Sep 21, 2011 12:02 pm
Location: Hunter Valley, NSW, Australia

Re: Many blackouts in Texas.

Post by BritDownUnder »

A lack of preparation on the part of individuals and the electricity utilities and regulators has been exposed by events in Texas. Perhaps you could change "the strong will survive and the weak will perish" to "the prepared will survive and the unprepared will perish"

I don't claim that it is the fault of renewables. Apparently 30% of fossil fuel plants are not operating for some reason or other. It does seem that there can be cold winter periods of certain duration where wind and solar power can be minimal and some other power source will need to be used to cover this period.
G'Day cobber!
User avatar
adam2
Site Admin
Posts: 8281
Joined: Mon Jul 02, 2007 5:49 pm
Location: North Somerset

Re: Many blackouts in Texas.

Post by adam2 »

I suspect that the summer air conditioning load in Texas probably exceeds the winter heating load under normal conditions. Winter would therefore be the time to close down power plants for maintenance, or simply to turn them off and thereby save some of the fixed costs.

To start a coal burning power plant from "cold, dark and not staffed" can take 24 hours* or more, and there is a significant risk that something will break or trip in that time.

To re start a similar power plant that is fully staffed and has all plant in good working order from recent use takes a few hours.

To take full load on a coal power plant that was "tripped to house load only" or otherwise maintained in a hot standby state takes only minutes.

*There is a lot to go wrong under these circumstances, including the vehicles of key staff being stuck in snow, frozen water pipes, build up of ice on transformers, coal piles frozen solid, and even staff declining to work without proper welfare facilities.
"Installers and owners of emergency diesels must assume that they will have to run for a week or more"
User avatar
BritDownUnder
Posts: 880
Joined: Wed Sep 21, 2011 12:02 pm
Location: Hunter Valley, NSW, Australia

Re: Many blackouts in Texas.

Post by BritDownUnder »

I hear they now have a water problem. Distributing a few bottles of water each to people sitting in their fossil fueled cars in long lines is probably not what I call progress or efficient disaster management.

I agree with the suggestions on why some of the fossil fuelled power stations were offline. Maybe the Texans need to have a discussion on what is needed to cover similar future eventualities.
G'Day cobber!
User avatar
Potemkin Villager
Posts: 1306
Joined: Tue Mar 14, 2006 10:58 am
Location: Narnia

Re: Many blackouts in Texas.

Post by Potemkin Villager »

BritDownUnder wrote: Sun Feb 21, 2021 10:08 am
I hear they now have a water problem. Distributing a few bottles of water each to people sitting in their fossil fueled cars in long lines is probably not what I call progress or efficient disaster management.
Yes folk have such touching faith in rugged individuals using their overpowered cars being the way to get out of trouble!
The Stone Age represents 99.99% of mankind's existence on this planet. Francis Pryor
User avatar
adam2
Site Admin
Posts: 8281
Joined: Mon Jul 02, 2007 5:49 pm
Location: North Somerset

Re: Many blackouts in Texas.

Post by adam2 »

Press reports state that significant numbers of electricity consumers in Texas are facing huge electricity bills as a result of the extreme weather, said to $16,000 in one case.
There are calls for public money to be used to pay or to help pay such bills.

Under any normal circumstances it would be a physical imposibility to use that much energy in less than two weeks, on a normal domestic sized service.
Consider as an example a 200 amp service at 120/240 volts, as is very common.
That is 48 Kilowatts. If fully loaded continually that would come to about $10 an hour, at my estimate. Say $250 a day or $2,500 for ten days. Ouch, but not approaching the $16,000 reported.
And a continual loading of 48 Kw is rather improbable even for a large and poorly insulated house. $100 a day or $1,000 for 10 days might be more realistic, that is still well over a dozen portable heaters run 24/7.

Have people signed up to some special tarriff whereby they pay the actual wholesale market price for electricity, plus a mark up for distribution.
That could get very expensive indeed under emergency conditions when utilities were in effect "buying at any price"
Such tariffs are more applicable to industries that can either shut down, or use their own generating plant under such conditions.

It would be unwise to for a domestic consumer to select such a tarrif, unless they either have agenerator, or are willing to cut back VERY SIGNIFICANTLY on power use.

Or is some other factor innvolved ?

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-56147311
"Installers and owners of emergency diesels must assume that they will have to run for a week or more"
kenneal - lagger
Site Admin
Posts: 12589
Joined: Wed Sep 20, 2006 2:35 am
Location: Newbury, Berkshire
Contact:

Re: Many blackouts in Texas.

Post by kenneal - lagger »

From what I have read they were signed up to a variable price tariff as you suggested Adam.
Action is the antidote to despair - Joan Baez
User avatar
BritDownUnder
Posts: 880
Joined: Wed Sep 21, 2011 12:02 pm
Location: Hunter Valley, NSW, Australia

Re: Many blackouts in Texas.

Post by BritDownUnder »

I think they are paying the tradeable electricity price so if it is $14,000 per MWh (this is the ceiling price in Australia don't you know...) then the customer in Texas will have to pay it. I don't think this is allowed in Australia as it exposes the customer to a lot of risk without price pooling but in the great state of Texas it is probably allowed.
It's a pity because Texas did have some very good tariffs like free power after 9-30pm due to wind power etc. One consolation is that these customers probably had very low bills until this event.
G'Day cobber!
User avatar
adam2
Site Admin
Posts: 8281
Joined: Mon Jul 02, 2007 5:49 pm
Location: North Somerset

Re: Many blackouts in Texas.

Post by adam2 »

So people signed up to a variable price tarriff that has the potential to be exceedingly costly at times of shortage, and now expect that public money should be used to bail them out when it all went wrong.
What next ? bail outs to those who invest in shares that become worthless ?
"Installers and owners of emergency diesels must assume that they will have to run for a week or more"
User avatar
BritDownUnder
Posts: 880
Joined: Wed Sep 21, 2011 12:02 pm
Location: Hunter Valley, NSW, Australia

Re: Many blackouts in Texas.

Post by BritDownUnder »

I think the phase is known as “corporatising your profits and socialising your losses”. A rising trend in most Western countries these days with all the bailouts, gofundme and whatnot.

Buying a generator was a good move in Texas in January 2021.
G'Day cobber!
Post Reply