Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Texas Nearly Went Dark Last Night

Texas came uncomfortably close to another round of rolling blackouts Tuesday night because grid operators misjudged the weather, reports BloombergGreen.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which manages most of the state’s grid, had counted on a mild cold front sweeping the state, lowering demand for power. It didn’t happen. On Tuesday, temperatures in Dallas, Brownsville and Houston were moderately higher than normal, reaching or exceeding 80 degrees Fahrenheit. As a result, demand on the grid was about 3,000 megawatts higher than anticipated -- or the equivalent of 600,000 homes.

BG reports:

Tuesday’s weather was hardly extreme, and the close call has raised questions about whether the grid operator, known as Ercot, can prevent a repeat of the February energy crisis.
“It’s a disgrace for a power grid in modern times to struggle to keep the lights on during a mild day,” said Daniel Cohan, an associate professor of environmental engineering at Rice University. “We’ll be in trouble when a summer heat wave comes in and demand is one-and-a-half times as much as it was yesterday.” 

But then BG made an absurd claim:

 Texas has long taken a laissez-faire approach to its power grid, allowing market forces -- rather than regulations -- to ensure there’s enough power on hand to satisfy demand. State lawmakers have been reluctant to rethink that method as they consider addressing the problems that led to the crisis in February.

Anything run by a "Council of Texas" that manages the state's entire electric grid is not a laissez-faire approach.

It is time that Texas think about a true laissez-faire electric market. (For more on this, see the February piece: How Did a Cold Freeze Result in Texas Becoming the Venezuela of Supplying Energy to Local Customers?)

And they shouldn't waste any time.

BG notes:

The coming weekend may present another test for grid operators. Temperatures are set to dip into the 40s across Dallas, Fort Worth and Austin and fall to the 50s in Houston and San Antonio. While hardly the frigid readings that sparked the winter crisis in Texas in February, that could drive heating demand that’s largely powered by electricity in the state.
“That’s chilly for them for late April and could invoke a bit of overnight to morning heating demand,”said [Matt Rogers, president of the Commodity Weather Group LLC in Bethesda, Maryland. ]

Summer could be ever worse. Already, almost 75% of Texas is gripped by drought, and more than 91% is abnormally dry. Drought makes heat worse because the sun’s energy goes into warming the air rather than evaporating ground moisture.

“This doesn’t bode well for summer when they are already issuing these kind of alerts,” said Jim Rouiller, lead meteorologist at the Energy Weather Group. “The cold killed people. The heat will kill a lot more people.”



  1. "Electric Reliability Council of Texas"

    -- The second word just shows that life is more humorous than fiction.

    1. You beat me to it. Looks like these clowns need to first get a new name.

    2. "Council" is "Soviet" in Russian. Just saying...

  2. Central Planning, am I right!?