How Is The Texas Power Grid Failing?

2021-02-24 // Edit: Turns out that an unregulated power grid how more issues then I originally thought, check out the update at the bottom to find out about why some Texas residents are now dealing with extreme power bills like the one this person received for $16,752.

The United States as three power grids: the west coast power grid, the east coast power grid, and Texas. Texas is a large state and, at some point, in its history it decided that it should be on its own power grid that is separate from the rest of the U.S., and not all counties in Texas are being powered by that standalone grid.

Combining natural gas, nuclear and wind, it’s quite impressive. They’ve touted it for years. You may have heard a lot in the news about the cold temperatures freezing the wind turbines and preventing them from turning. They’re getting a lot of the blame. According to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) themselves, wind and nuclear only accounts for 20% of electricity generation.

Turns out, the major issue in Texas right now is actually liquid in natural gas pipes freezing, and preventing the flow of gas and is likely the cause of brown-outs. This is a phenomena called freeze-off. Natural gas is non-renewable source of energy and is a significant and potent producer of greenhouse gas when released into the atmosphere.

Here comes an opinion; Texas is the leading producer of natural gas in the nation, and you know that an event like this, as well as a failure of this magnitude, will have lasting affects on an already strained industry.

Wind turbines aren’t just used in warmer climates. I wonder if anyone has considered calling someone up here in Canada and asking how we might handle our wind turbine farms? I’d be curious for someone to calculate the amount of Solar/Wind energy needed to power Texas, and then determine how much that would cost to operate. Then, compare that to operational costs of a complete Natural Gas solution. That’s a project for another day…

De-Regulated Power

Apparently the Texas power grid is more interesting then I realized. Somewhat like your mortgage, the residents of Texas are able to choose to pay wholesale prices (variable rate) for electricity, which is generally less expensive then standard pricing, but doesn’t necessarily have the same consumer protections. This leads to less costs when the price of electricity is down, but, as we now see, when the cost of producing electricity increases, so will these wholesale prices.

This isn’t much of an issue if you can afford it, but many can’t, and this includes a larger proportion of black, brown, Hispanic and other minorities. Inadvertently, this de-regulated energy producer is marginalizing its customers by not providing them with appropriate protections from situations that are out of their control.