First, I wish to level the playing field. Unlike other electric utilities that I have worked for or visited and had first hand information about many operations, I do not have first hand knowledge of every detail that contributed to the failures in the power grid infrastructure for Texas. Therefore, I must reserve the right to correct any verbiage in this blog due to the fact that despite reading and confirming some reliable information on the subject, “Sensationalism” prevails and real “Journalism” is squelched.
So what happened with the power grid in Texas? Seems to me that a poor management decision was made due to money justification. The temperatures were dropping and the demand for electricity was spiking. Additional Megawatts were needed and a decision was made not to bring on more production from gas, oil or coal power plants. After all, perhaps an innocent assumption was made that this was Texas and the weather will be warm again in a day or two. In addition, the decision makers had to justify the cost for bringing on line additional generators.
So again we have the real problem: Assumptions and Money. This A & M is a contagious disease that crosses all spectrums of power production. End result, there wasn’t enough power to meet the demand and the grid started to shut down as designed for safety protocol. Rolling blackouts were put into action until additional generators could be brought on line. A 100% shut down was avoided, but 85% of that Grid took a hit because of humankind’s decision.
So the lost of power wasn’t an act of God, but a humankind assumption floundering in money justification and that is the problem with all energy production. Both Renewable energy and Non-Renewable energy are plagued with this A & M disease. Case and point:
Why did the power grid supply fail?
There is a rare winter storm in Texas, a state that saw no reason to spend “money” on winterizing their energy production.
Solar panels have no system to clean snow off, because those systems cost money. (Even I have a way to clean snow off my solar panels. I had to come up with some method, because my area does get snowfall every year. I have a very simple and safe way, that had a very small investment. However, I must put in the time since I could not afford an automatic system. My time makes me money as I am able to produce Kilowatts once the sun is shinning again.
BTW: I do not go up on my roof. My previous GTG blog posts on solar explain more.)
Texas Wind Turbines and Gas Lines froze because they never had the money spent to winterize their operations. Oil and coal could not meet the demand because of human error in decision making. (System automatically starts to shutdown as a safety precaution when demand can’t be met.) In total, an 85% system shutdown.
If Texas had invested in winterizing all electrical generating systems, this one storm would have provided payback and possible profit. Now, this storm is costing them far more than any winterizing investment. Additionally, we need to ask the following: Did the government and electrical utilities provide helpful information on the news to inform the public of alternative ways to keep warm as well as how to drain most of the water out of their pipes? All the frozen and broken water pipes may become a legal matter now costing the utility more money, because while the storm can be labeled as an act of God, the system’s failure was due to poor decisions made by humans.
The irony is this, the two political sides blame each other and fail to see that they are both to blame, because the little that they do, is all about making money for themselves. Let it be for renewable or non-renewable energy production.
Next week, Texas’ weather will be around the sixty degree mark, while most of northern United States will have another week in and out of the twenty degree zone, but the power remains on.
Bill Lauto, at GoingTrueGreen.com
International Sustainability and Energy Consultant
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