Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Texas Is Broken Part II: Electric Boo-Boo

It wasn't too long ago (February this month) I wrote about the GREAT STATE OF TEXAS - home to the second-most number of Americans - killing itself in a deep freeze due to serious mismanagement by their current Republican-dominate state officials.

Well, here's the other side of the coin with regards to the Climate Change Extremes everybody has been screaming about the last 30 years: As of now, Texas is killing itself with a severe heat wave that's draining their broken electrical grid (via Erin Douglas at Texas Tribune):

Texas’ main power grid struggled to keep up with the demand for electricity Monday, prompting the operator to ask Texans to conserve power until Friday.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas said in a statement Monday that a significant number of unexpected power plant outages, combined with expected record use of electricity due to hot weather, has resulted in tight grid conditions. Approximately 12,000 megawatts of generation were offline Monday, or enough to power 2.4 million homes on a hot summer day.

ERCOT officials said the power plant outages were unexpected — and could not provide details as to what could be causing them...

Here's a possibility: the likelihood that inaction by the political and corporate leadership for the past 20 years to expand or update the power grid to handle the growing population and energy demands that go with all that (it doesn't help that in the past 20 years, our reliance on electronics has increased) has created too much demand and not enough reserves. Anyway, back to Douglas:

The conservation request comes at a time of heightened anxiety around electricity after the state’s catastrophic February power outages left millions without power for days. Those outages, which were prompted by a severe winter storm, may have killed as many as 700 people, according to an analysis of mortality data by BuzzFeed News...

Of the plants offline, about 9,600 megawatts of power, or nearly 80% of the outages, are from thermal power sources, which in Texas are largely natural-gas-fired power plants. That’s several times what ERCOT usually sees offline for thermal generation maintenance during a summer day. Typically, only about 3,600 megawatts of thermal generation are offline this time of year...

The article comments how in April they shut down plants to handle repairs from the February freeze-out, but questions should remain that the power stations in Texas have not fully recovered from all that damage done.

Just to include here for comment, follow this link to see Anne Laurie at Balloon Juice doing us a solid by collating all of the Twitter comments noting how the inept GOP leadership for Texas is pretty much letting the state boil away. 

For all the schadenfreude the political attacks provide - aimed at a group of self-satisfied Republican leaders who keep proving their unwillingness to ACTUALLY LEAD their state - this is again a very serious problem for Texas.

Heat waves are nasty and lethal: Thousands can die in a prolonged heat wave, and Southwest United States - Texas included - is facing one of the most severe ones in years

As a Floridian, let me tell you: the difference between living in an air-conditioned room at 76 F over a room heated up to 82 F - which will happen at the least when the power goes - means being able to breathe normally (for starters). Opening the windows won't help if the outdoors is hotter than being in the shade, and if humidity is there to make it worse. Without power, without even ceiling fans to help circulate the air to cut down on humidity, people won't just feel uncomfortable... people will collapse and suffer heat strokes.

That ERCOT council - encouraging people to raise their thermometers just a tad - is overlooking how many of their residents won't, because they'll only worry about their own comfort and risk any blackouts that might roll along at any time of the day. It does not help that the way things are going, the amount of power left to share is so minimal that blackouts are unavoidable... And what happens then???

All because the powers that be that have run the GREAT STATE OF TEXAS - not just the modern Republicans but the conservative Democrats of yore - have been libertarian-driven anti-federalism nightmares who refused to properly regulate their state's energy needs and who obsess over culture war politics over actual governance.

Governor Abbott just promised to spend millions on continuing trump's ill-advised and foolish border wall project, all the while failing to spend millions on upgrading the state's power grid or even connect themselves to neighboring states to help manage power demands. The latest "reforms" that Abbott passed did not do anything to ween the state away from natural gas, which proved unreliable during the February freeze and is proving unreliable now.

And given how Bitcoin mining seems to chew up electricity like tasty gummi bears, Abbott's recent call to promote cryptocurrency in Texas could be what's causing the power shortages of the past few weeks. 

The Republican leadership of Texas - beholden to oil and gas corporations above all others - does not want to make the hard choices that the residents of Texas need right now to save their own lives.

And it's going to be the elderly, and the young, and the poor, who are all going to be hurt by this.

Can't wait for Part III of Texas' next big disaster, which is an upcoming hurricane season that will not show mercy on anyone.

Gods help them. 

Because the Republicans really won't.

1 comment:

dinthebeast said...

I feel for all of the expat Californians who moved to Texas because they just couldn't afford the housing costs here any more. Remember Enron and the rolling blackouts? That's what you've got there now.
Meanwhile the governor is taking up a collection to build Fergus' wall...

-Doug in Sugar Pine