What makes the Texas power blackout unique, and why it won’t happen elsewhere

Big chunks of Texas are without power in the wake of an epic snow and ice storm gripping much of the United States. The immediate cause for the grid’s failure is freezing temperatures, but this happens every winter in northern states (and Scandanavia), and they don’t lose power to the entire grid as just happened in Texas. Something else is behind it.

The explanation is, “The Texas grid is run by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), a nonprofit controlled by the state legislature. Nearly the entire state is part of a single grid that lacks extensive integration with surrounding states’ grids.” In other words, Texas has a self-contained, standalone grid that can’t draw power from other sources when its generating capacity goes down. (For the reason why, read this article.) That’s unique in the Lower 48 states.

And why did the state’s generating capacity go down? “Green energy” critics were quick to blame “frozen wind turbines.” Many of them did freeze, although winds whipping coastal wind turbines made up for part of this power loss. But wind is only a fraction of Texas’ power generation, and that wouldn’t take down the entire grid. It went down because the freezing temperatures also disabled the state’s coal, gas, and nuclear generation.

This storm didn’t expose a flaw in wind generator technology; wind turbines work fine in Antarctica and Norway. It exposed a management flaw. The Texas wind turbines froze because the utilities there didn’t want to spend money winterizing them, because Texas doesn’t get freezing weather very often.

At least, it didn’t until the climate began to change.

Read article here.

Photo below: Powerless Texas

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