First the news; then I will give some context that is needed every time the weather turns cold (this time, REALLY COLD) in the United States.
Some folk’s science extends as far as sticking their nose out the door.
Texas Deploys National GuardAs ‘Grid Chaos’ Leaves Millions Freezing In Darkness
15 February, 2021
Here are the key takeaways from Texas rolling blackouts:
- The Weather Channel Warns Of “Dangerous” Cold Temperatures
- Southwest Power Pool Says 17 States Limiting Energy Usage
- 3.368 million Texans Without Power
- Texas Gov. Greg Abbott Calls Up Texas Army National Guard
- Oncor Electric Delivery Continues To Warn About Extended “Controlled Outages”
- Texas Gov. Greg Abbott States Power Grid Not Compromised
- Power Crisis Hits Texas And 13 Other States
- Southwest Power Pool Declares Energy Emergency Alert Level 3
- Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner Warns Of More Blackouts
- Houston Mayor Sylvester Suspends Air Travel In Houston
- ERCOT Wholesale Electricity Prices Plunged From Cap Of $9k per megawatt-hour to around $2.5k
- Oncor Electric Delivery Extends Rolling Blackouts
- 2.7 Million Texans Without Power
- ERCOT Wholesale Electricity Prices Exceed $9k per megawatt-hour
* * *
Update ( 1755 ET): While millions of Texans are without power heading into Monday evening, the power grid may be strained once more as temperatures could reach “dangerous levels,” according to The Weather Channel.
More record lows are expected for Tuesday morning across Texas. If ERCOT doesn’t secure additional power generation – more blackouts may occur.
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Update ( 1612 ET): The Southwest Power Pool (SSP), which manages the electric grid and wholesale power market for the central US, including Kansas, Oklahoma, portions of New Mexico, Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Missouri, Minnesota, Iowa, Wyoming, and Nebraska, released an update Monday afternoon saying 17 states have “curtailed energy usage to balance supply and demand.”
Frigid air continues to pour into the central US, overwhelming power grids, forcing operators to implement rolling blackouts like a third world country.
America’s power grid is in shambles.
* * *
Update (1605 ET): CBS Austin’s Melanie Torre reports Gov. Greg Abbott has called up the Texas Army National Guard “to conduct welfare checks and to assist local authorities in transitioning Texans in need to one of the 135 local warming centers across Texas.”
While Abbott said earlier the “Texas power grid has not been compromised,” we find that hard to believe as the number of customers without power has significantly jumped 3.368 million.
* * *
Update (1534 ET): Oncor Electric Delivery, Texas’ largest transmission and electric distribution utility, published another statement on its Twitter account detailing how “unprecedented shortfall of electric generation” will continue to extend “controlled outages” due to “emergency grid conditions & severe cold weather.”
The TX power system is currently facing an unprecedented shortfall of electric generation. @ERCOT_ISO has requested Oncor & utilities across TX to implement controlled power outages to reduce high demand & protect the integrity of the electric grid.
The length of these controlled outages have been significantly extended due to current emergency grid conditions & severe cold weather. These outages are taking place across the service territory & ERCOT has said they could be required through Tues
We are asking all Oncor customers to be prepared to be without power for an extended period of time.
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Update (1500 ET): Texas Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted around 1431 ET, indicating that he’s been communicating with major power grid operators this afternoon and will provide an update “shortly.”
“The Texas power grid has not been compromised. The ability of some companies that generate the power has been frozen. This includes the natural gas & coal generators. They are working to get generation back on line. ERCOT & PUC are prioritizing residential consumers,” said Abbott.
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Update (1453 ET): Bloomberg reports the power crisis in Texas has expanded to 13 other states.
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Update (1425 ET): The Southwest Power Pool (SSP), which manages the electric grid and wholesale power market for the central US, including Kansas, Oklahoma, portions of New Mexico, Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Missouri, Minnesota, Iowa, Wyoming, and Nebraska, declared an Energy Emergency Alert Level 3 on Monday after reserve energy was used to keep the grid online.
“In our history as a grid operator, this is an unprecedented event and marks the first time SPP has ever had to call for controlled interruptions of service,” said EVP and Chief Operating Officer Lanny Nickell said.
Southwest Power Pool’s full statement:
Meanwhile, Houston Sylvester Turner has just warned blackouts will increase in the coming hours as some emergency shelters have lost power. Due to the severity of the cold snap and winter weather, the mayor also said all travel in and out of Houston has been suspended.
… and a ZeroHedge reader down in Houston had this to say:
I live in Houston. I am lucky. I have never lost power…yet. For those who have lost power…these are definitely not “rolling blackouts.” They are just flat out power outages. This is per Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and other public officials. Many people have been without power since the middle of the night. It is unknown when they will regain power.
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Update (1259 ET): By noon, ERCOT wholesale electricity prices for delivery plunged from their cap of $9,000 per megawatt-hour to around $2,500. To remind readers, ERCOT prices are normally around $25/MWh.
Pricing across ERCOT still remains abnormally high.
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Update (1110 ET): Oncor Electric Delivery, Texas’s largest transmission and electric distribution utility, serving more than ten million customers, released a rather disturbing statement Monday morning warning about extended rolling blackouts as temperatures hover around zero.
Oncor asked people to prepare for the worse as the power grid experienced a systemwide failure due to historic winter conditions across the state.
Due to the severity of the electric generation shortfall, our expected outage length of 15 to 45 minutes has been significantly extended. Outages due to this electric emergency could last for hours & we ask you to be prepared.
In addition, we are responding to separate outages caused by the record-breaking winter storm that continues to impact our entire service territory. We are doing everything possible to respond to each of these power emergency events.
We remain in close coordination with ERCOT & we appreciate everyone’s patience as we do all we can to protect the integrity of the Texas grid.
Grid managers declared an emergency after unprecedented demand spiked strained utilities beyond capacity. Blackouts could last until Tuesday.
As of 1110 ET, PowerOutage.US shows 2.7 million customers are without power.
Texas’ grid failure could quickly morph into a public health crisis as millions freeze with temperatures near zero.
* * *
Rolling power outages are in effect across the state of Texas as the polar vortex split has poured some of the coldest air ever into the central US. There are nearly 2 million Texan customers without power as of Monday morning.
Texas power grid operator ERCOT warned Sunday of an “energy emergency” and threatened “rotating outages.” By Monday morning (0125 local time), ERCOT began “rotating outages” to “reduce demand on the electric system.” It continued: “Traffic lights and other infrastructure may be temporary without power.”
As of 0700 ET, PowerOutage.US shows 1.834 million customers are without power across the state amid frigid temperatures.
ERCOT officials said outages are expected to last between 15 and 45 minutes. They say blackouts are “necessary to maintain the system’s reliability.” Power demand is expected to remain at record levels through Tuesday as record-low temperatures will stay in the region through the week.
“Every grid operator and every electric company is fighting to restore power right now,” said Bill Magness President and Chief Executive Officer of ERCOT.
Temperatures across Texas and the central US are expected to be well below normal through the end of the week.
ERCOT’s decision to implement rolling power outages comes after we first warned of an imminent grid crisis on Thursday, when we reported that natgas prices across the plains states had soared to never before seen levels as a result of a brutal polar vortex blast.
… which cut off natgas supply amid wellhead freeze-offs, cutting production receipts just when customers’ demand for heating most needed them. By Friday, frigid temperatures caused equipment failures, temporarily shutdowns in at least four natgas plants.
Over the last 24 hours, hundreds of daily records for cold temperatures were broken as Arctic air pushed all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico.
“We would expect to be in emergency operations tomorrow through at least Tuesday morning,” said Dan Woodfin, a senior director at ERCOT.
On Monday morning, ERCOT wholesale electricity prices for delivery surpassed the grid’s price cap of $9,000 per megawatt-hour, many multiples over the average costs of $25/MWh.
Our trader contact at a Houston energy firm sums the situation up as eloquently and succinctly as ever:
“we’ve officially hit the ‘Holy Fucking Shit Levels’ here…”
Natgas supplies have been “limited” to some power plants, Ercot said. Cold temperatures restricted gas flow from wells to pipelines, helping to spark a jump in spot prices from below $3 to more than $100 per million British thermal units.
President Joe Biden signed an emergency disaster order for Texas on Sunday.
“The President’s action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population, and to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, authorized under Title V of the Stafford Act, to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, and to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in all 254 Texas counties,” the statement from the White House said.
Late Sunday, ERCOT set a new winter peak demand record Sunday, reaching 69,150 MW it tweeted.
If you are a retailer, obligated to, lets just say, 25MW, and did not hedge (meaning you left it to get filled by ERCOT at market clearing price), you just incurred a $7.1M cost on an around the clock basis for a single day.
Thousands of businesses will be facing millions of dollars in electricity bills…
A very large storm system is moving northeastward toward New Jersey and New York City which forecasters say could bring bringing hours of ICE to the region.
As of 7:00 AM, the storm is mostly in Mississippi and Alabama. By 1:00 PM, it will have expanded into Kentucky, southern West Virginia, and will be making a bee-line toward New Jersey and New York City for late Monday into Tuesday.
Heavy bouts of icing will fall from the sky onto trees, power lines, and roadways.
Many trees may succumb to the weight of the ice, breaking off large branches or causing the trees to snap. This, in turn, may take down electric power lines, wiping out the ability to heat homes.
As ice begins developing on roads, operating a motor vehicle will becomes VERY DANGEROUS. No matter the tires, cars do not control well on ice. They slide into other vehicles along the road, slide off the road into light or utility poles, even go off embankments into ditches, sometimes overturning along the way. People are URGED to stay off the roads when possible, because car wrecks in an ice storm are highly likely.
Homeowners are urged to have alternate heating for their homes. While some homes have fire places, most do not anymore. However, almost anyone can have a kerosene heater. In some places, however, such heaters are UNLAWFUL. Check your local regulations to make certain you do not run afoul of the law.
For those who cannot have kerosene heaters, perhaps an emergency generator would be of value. This can supply your furnace with electric to run, even if power lines go down. Of course, DO NOT run an electric generator indoors. It’s engine gives off Carbon Monoxide gas which can kill people if used indoors. Electric generators should be kept outside the home in a well ventilated area when being operated.
Those without alternate heat or emergency electric will just have to layer-up clothing and cuddle under heavy blankets to stay warm. Leave water faucets dripping fast to try to avoid rupturing pipes.
UPDATE 11:53 AM EST–
The storm is continuing to develop and expand. By 4:00 PM today, it will reach Pittsburgh, PA. ALL AREAS IN PURPLE on the map below will be hit with serious ice:
For a bit of context that does not interest those trying to persuade us that we are moving into a ice-age because the United States of America suffers some colder-than average temperatures.
Look at the map. The Arctic ice is melting and some of the cold is moving south.