Update:Texas Group ERCOT Has Come To Rely on Conservation Alerts as a Normal Operating Procedure Rather Than an Exceptional Emergency Measure. The Problem Is Not the Weather but the System Design Itself, Which Has Insufficient Capacity to Match Load Growth

Texas Factories Dial Back Power Usage To Balance Strained Grid

HNewsWire: Update, Some of the country's most powerful political authorities neglected to allocate funds appropriately, resulting in the recent outages of the electric system. There are certain people who need to be held accountable, and I believe the next election will bring about significant alterations as a result of the ongoing grid crisis.

For the second time this week, Texas' power grid operator took emergency action and asked customers to conserve power Wednesday afternoon to avoid rolling blackouts as a heatwave strained power supplies.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) sent customers notices three hours before 1400 local time to reduce power instead of the 18-hour notice for Monday.

ERCOT blamed Wednesday's conservation appeal on record high electric demand and the lack of wind and solar power as a relentless heatwave scorched the state.

Reuters reports that energy-intensive companies, such as Japanese automaker Toyota Motor Corp., scaled back production at its San Antonio plant to conserve power.

A Toyota spokesperson said the San Antonio plant might stop production before 1400 local time during the business week and reduce night shifts, effective immediately through August.

Samsung Electronics Co Ltd. is another company in the state that is reducing power to support rebalancing efforts of the heavily strained grid:

"We are carefully monitoring the weather conditions and communicating with local authorities, and will adjust our plans accordingly," Samsung said in a statement on Thursday.

Air conditioners were scaled back to conserve power at General Motors Co.'s Arlington plant, where full-size SUVs are produced for the Chevrolet, GMC, and Cadillac brands.

Sources told Reuters that LyondellBasell's Houston refinery, one of the largest US refineries, with a processing capacity of 268,000-barrel-per-day of heavy-sulfur crude, transforming it into refined products, such as premium grades such as gasoline, jet fuel, and ultra-low sulfur diesel, reduced power usage by switching from electric pumps to steam turbines.

A LyondellBasell spokesperson said the refinery has been working "to reduce electricity demand without shutting down assets or compromising the safety and reliability of our operations."

Last Thursday, a dealer for one of the larger institutional crude and products books correctly told us how industries in the state would reduce electricity this week because of an unstable power grid.

Meanwhile, Tesla asked owners of its electric cars not to charge "between 3 pm and 8 pm ... to help statewide efforts to manage demand."

It's clear that the green-fraud scam is continuing. Electric cars can no longer be charged or filled with gas because of the restrictions placed by the government. What a sham. It's not amusing when the government sends out a letter telling you not to charge your electric toy cars when you're trying to get things done.

HNewsWire:By John Kemp, senior energy analyst at Reuters

Since the start of May, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) has twice appealed to homes and businesses to limit consumption at peak times to avert power shortages and rolling blackouts. ERCOT has issued conservation alerts more than four dozen times since 2008, most recently on July 10, when it appealed to customers to reduce consumption between 2pm and 8pm local time on July 11.

ERCOT control center

State officials tend to blame the problem on extreme weather but the fragile condition of the electricity network has been caused by a failure to connect enough reliable generation to cope with booming demand growth.

Most of the increase in electric load has been driven by rapid growth in the state’s population and economy over the last 20 years rather than weather-related problems.

The state’s resident population increased to 29.5 million in mid-2021 from 21.3 million in mid-2001, according to estimates prepared by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Retail electricity sales to residences, commercial properties, industrial sites and transport providers have surged to 427 billion kilowatt-hours in 2021 from 318 billion in 2001.

Compound annual growth in electricity sales (1.48%) has been almost the same as the compound growth in the state’s population (1.64%). Population and economic growth accounts for nearly all load growth; unusually cold winters or hot summers account for only a small share of variability.

Repeated power crises and calls for conservation show how growth in dependable generation has failed to keep pace with growth in load leading to an erosion of generation margins.

The problem is compounded by the isolated nature of the state’s grid, which has very few links to neighbouring states, and is therefore unable to spread the normal variation of generation and load over a wider area.

FAIR WEATHER SYSTEM

The inadequate generation margin is masked when weather conditions are mild and close to long-term averages (in the same way a poorly capitalised bank’s problems are hidden when the economy is booming). But when temperatures become unusually cold or hot for the time of year, the extra pressure pushes the system to the brink of failure (in the same way thinly capitalised banks fail when the business cycle turns down).

In winter, the problem centres on the inadequate weatherisation of generating units and the fuel supply system, which can cause supposedly reliable generation to fail to start when it is most needed.

In summer, there is insufficient surge generation capacity and insufficient flexibility in demand to ensure the system can be safely balanced whenever temperatures spike.

The problem is not the weather but the system design itself, insufficient capacity to match load growth, and failure to operate the network within conservative limits. The possible insufficiency of ERCOT’s generation margin this summer was identified by regulators in a review two months ago (“Summer reliability assessment”, North American Electric Reliability Corporation, May 18).

To a large extent, the problem has reflected a long-term political choice to operate an energy-only rather than a capacity market in the state to keep costs down.

The energy-only market provides cheaper electricity on average but at the cost of recurrent shortages leading to appeals for conservation and sometimes blackouts.

ERCOT has come to rely on conservation alerts as a normal operating procedure rather than exceptional emergency measure. Periodic conservation appeals and the risk of occasional blackouts have been the price for keeping generating capacity lean and costs down; conservation appeals have become a feature rather than a bug.

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Update: Scourge of the Heavens In Play: Texas Power Grid Operator Urges Customers to Conserve Electricity After Six Plants Go Offline, but Don’t Worry People, They Have Things Under Control. If the Power Out, HNewsWire Suggest You Find a Shade Tree and Pray, Make More Sense Then (Ercot)

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1 Comment

  1. Edwitness on July 15, 2022 at 1:20 am

    I saw that Tesla has issued warnings for people who drive it’s electric cars that they should not charge their cars during peak electric use hours during this heat wave. Saying that wind power is slowed so they are putting the grid at risk.

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