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Thread: Ice Storm outages in Texas

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    I have a friend in Austin and other in Houston.

    The one in Austin said AT&T never went down, Verizon was down for a few hours, T-Mobile was out for ~4 days- when it did come back it was Edge only for about a day.

    The one in Houston said AT&T went down for about an hour, T-Mobile and Verizon never went down.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maryland View Post
    I have a friend in Austin and other in Houston.

    The one in Austin said AT&T never went down, Verizon was down for a few hours, T-Mobile was out for ~4 days- when it did come back it was Edge only for about a day.

    The one in Houston said AT&T went down for about an hour, T-Mobile and Verizon never went down.
    Thank you for letting me know, it confirms that all of them could be knocked out by storms like this.

    It all depends on which sites have backups in place and where those sites with backups are.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jmac32here View Post
    ..... If they had the interstate setup, they could have easily leased energy from other states that have a surplus, and perhaps the whole grid would not have gone dark......
    They do. The issue is that the amount of wind generation capacity alone that was offline in Texas exceeds the total generation capacity of the entire state of Mississippi, Arkansas or Louisiana. The question I'd like answered is why was so much wind power offline? It's "free" energy, isn't it. You don't have to burn anything to make it, right? Does it actually require so much maintenance that half if it has to be out of service at any given time to keep it working?
    Donald Newcomb

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    Ice Storm outages in Texas

    Quote Originally Posted by DRNewcomb View Post
    They do. The issue is that the amount of wind generation capacity alone that was offline in Texas exceeds the total generation capacity of the entire state of Mississippi, Arkansas or Louisiana. The question I'd like answered is why was so much wind power offline? It's "free" energy, isn't it. You don't have to burn anything to make it, right? Does it actually require so much maintenance that half if it has to be out of service at any given time to keep it working?
    Wind generators have auto-brakes for over-speed. Not sure what the tolerances are but likely varies by differing specs and construction. Substations may have their own limitations too.

    Power generation, distribution lines, gas wells, and pipelines all have their own maintenance which cause them to be shut-down and shut-in for a variety of reasons. Upper Midwest, Alaska and Canada protect against both heat and cold. Why not all of TX utilities and cellular carriers is a mystery.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DRNewcomb View Post
    They do. The issue is that the amount of wind generation capacity alone that was offline in Texas exceeds the total generation capacity of the entire state of Mississippi, Arkansas or Louisiana. The question I'd like answered is why was so much wind power offline? It's "free" energy, isn't it. You don't have to burn anything to make it, right? Does it actually require so much maintenance that half if it has to be out of service at any given time to keep it working?
    Most of the state of Texas is in the Texas-only ERCOT grid that does not have significant interconnects with the adjoining East and West grids. They did this to avoid federal regulation of the ERCOT grid because of "It's Texas".

    For whatever reason some wind was offline. Wind production was only 1% below its planned and expected supply when SHTF. Thermal production was 25% below planned capacity. This was not in any way primarily a wind production failure.

    WIND TURBINES SHUTDOWN BY ICING! made for flashy headlines. That was true as far as it went. The whole truth includes that they were not expected to be running anyway. They are primarily used for the higher demand during the other ten months of air conditioning in Texas.

    Thermal production was down from the natural gas peaker plants because of unprecedented demand caused by low temperatures throughout the center of the country where the jet stream dipped. There wasn't enough gas supply to buy and the low temps knocked some distribution out.
    Last edited by bobdevnul; 02-20-2021 at 01:31 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bobdevnul View Post
    Most of the state of Texas is in the Texas-only ERCOT grid that does not have significant interconnects with the adjoining East and West grids. They did this to avoid federal regulation of the ERCOT grid because of "It's Texas".

    For whatever reason some wind was offline. Wind production was only 1% below its planned and expected supply when SHTF. Thermal production was 25% below planned capacity. This was not in any way primarily a wind production failure.

    WIND TURBINES SHUTDOWN BY ICING! made for flashy headlines. That was true as far as it went. The whole truth includes that they were not expected to be running anyway. They are primarily used for the higher demand during the other ten months of air conditioning in Texas.

    Thermal production was down from the natural gas peaker plants because of unprecedented demand caused by low temperatures throughout the center of the country where the jet stream dipped. There wasn't enough gas supply to buy and the low temps knocked some distribution out.
    Thank you for this. I needed someone to provide the same insight I've been seeing this entire time.

    Also, TX needs to winterize. Air turbines work in Antarctica, along with solar.
    Given the proper prep, which I did read somewhere SWEDEN offered TEXAS help in winterizing their air grid - only for TX to go "We're Texas, we don't need anyone's help." (BTW, Sweden apparently as a large amount of wind energy.) I also keep stressing that WA gets MOST of its energy from ONE hydro-electric dam. (We have two, but the Grand Coulee does most of the work.) Take that into consideration that WA in interstate and tends to sell most of our surplus energy to CA. (Yes, super cheap green energy and we have a surplus. It costs me just a little over $100 every two months to heat my home that would easily cost me $400 a month in SC - can vouch, lived in both areas.)

    Sure we also use natural gas, but its oddly a far second place producer to our one dam.
    https://www.eia.gov/state/?sid=WA

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    It all depends on which sites have backups in place and where those sites with backups are.
    Yup, VZW took every precaution here (generator backups and wireless fallback backhaul on all macrocells), but during the Derecho they had too many sites lose wired backhaul (also power, but the generators worked); result, signal but no useable service due to extreme congestion. It can happen to anyone.

    T-Mobile was out for ~4 days- when it did come back it was Edge only for about a day.
    Surprised at the EDGE-only, maybe it uses less electrical power (compared to running the 4G and 5G) and they did this to conserve power (so their generator or whatever would run longer.)?

    The question I'd like answered is why was so much wind power offline?
    Because the turbines installed in Texas were not ordered with heaters. That said, the ~90% of the power in Texas that comes from natural gas ALSO started going offline for basically the same reason, the gas distribution systems were not insulated or heated for operation in that low of temperatures. So this is not really some problem with renewable energy, it's a problem with Texas operators not winterizing their systems. The wind turbines here in Iowa, it's been lows of -15 and highs below 0 for over a week (and no, that is not wind chill, that is temperature), and below 10 degrees (high) for over 2 weeks (it's like 30 today, finally warmed up yesterday); no wind turbine problems. They use a small bit of power to heat the blades and whatever so the ice melts off. I assume the problem otherwise may partly be the weight from the ice buildup, but even more that the ice probably would build up unevenly, throwing the thing out of balance (if a tire gets out of balance from this, which they do, you get a bit of a bumpy ride; if a wind turbine ran significantly out of balance, probably the thing would fall apart.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by bobdevnul View Post
    Most of the state of Texas is in the Texas-only ERCOT grid that does not have significant interconnects with the adjoining East and West grids...
    Define "significant". As I mentioned earlier, Texas could suck up all the electric generation capacity in Louisiana and Arkansas and barely replace the about 50% of the wind turbines that were offline. Since Arkansas & Louisiana were both also experiencing a record cold wave, all that would have happened is to bring down the Eastern Grid along with Texas'. There's not much to the west. Texas experienced a 50% increase in demand for electricity over what is normal for this time of year.
    For whatever reason some wind was offline. Wind production was only 1% below its planned and expected supply when SHTF. Thermal production was 25% below planned capacity....
    Think about the numbers. 1% below "planned and expected supply" but only about 50% operational. This means that 50% of the wind turbines were planned to be offline. Why? Shouldn't wind be providing for the the baseload with fossil fuels only kicking in to cover the peak demand? I'd expect wind turbines to be operating at least 90% of the time. Or is it that wind generation is really only built for tax credits and show?
    ...Thermal production was down from the natural gas peaker plants because of unprecedented demand caused by low temperatures throughout the center of the country where the jet stream dipped. There wasn't enough gas supply to buy and the low temps knocked some distribution out.
    Then the fuel problem needs to be addressed by having these plants hold an emergency supply of fuel oil on hand. It seems clear that one can't count on wind and solar to meet peak demands. 50% of the wind capacity was offline for whatever reason and solar doesn't work at night or in a snow storm. The grid needs a power source you can rely on to meet surge demand. What do you suggest? More wind? Texas has a peak generation capacity of 124 GW. New Mexico: 8.7 GW. OK: 27 GW. LA: 24 GW. AR: 14 GW. Which of these states could jump in and fill a 50% increase in demand from Texas?

    Back in the '50s we were less dependent on the grid operating 100% of the time. Gas heaters didn't need electric fans and ignition. Everyone kept grandma's "storm lanterns" ready. The Internet didn't exist. Telephones used DC power provided by the exchange.

    This incident demonstrates how dependent we've become on modern services and that individuals and companies alike need to prepare for temporary loss of essential services. My cousin in Houston was not prepared and his water is now shut off while waiting for a plumber to fix a broken pipe in one bathroom. The city of Brenham wasn't prepared and lost water pressure. T-Mobile was not prepared and their customers suffered the consequences.

    It's not a problem unique to Texas. Power outages in parts of California seem to be a weekly occurrence. On the Gulf Coast we're liable to lose power anytime during hurricane season. My son was without power for 24 hours in central Mississippi because an ice storm snapped power lines. The solution is for individuals and companies to have backups for essential services. This way, when disruptions occur they have minimal impact.

    BTW, I think it's interesting that new Ford F-150 hybrid pickups have a 2.4 kW or 7.2 kW AC generator capacity built in. This should be a standard on all hybrid and even electric vehicles.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DRNewcomb View Post
    Define "significant". As I mentioned earlier, Texas could suck up all the electric generation capacity in Louisiana and Arkansas and barely replace the about 50% of the wind turbines that were offline. Since Arkansas & Louisiana were both also experiencing a record cold wave, all that would have happened is to bring down the Eastern Grid along with Texas'. There's not much to the west. Texas experienced a 50% increase in demand for electricity over what is normal for this time of year.

    Think about the numbers. 1% below "planned and expected supply" but only about 50% operational. This means that 50% of the wind turbines were planned to be offline. Why? Shouldn't wind be providing for the the baseload with fossil fuels only kicking in to cover the peak demand? I'd expect wind turbines to be operating at least 90% of the time. Or is it that wind generation is really only built for tax credits and show?
    Then the fuel problem needs to be addressed by having these plants hold an emergency supply of fuel oil on hand. It seems clear that one can't count on wind and solar to meet peak demands. 50% of the wind capacity was offline for whatever reason and solar doesn't work at night or in a snow storm. The grid needs a power source you can rely on to meet surge demand. What do you suggest? More wind? Texas has a peak generation capacity of 124 GW. New Mexico: 8.7 GW. OK: 27 GW. LA: 24 GW. AR: 14 GW. Which of these states could jump in and fill a 50% increase in demand from Texas?

    Back in the '50s we were less dependent on the grid operating 100% of the time. Gas heaters didn't need electric fans and ignition. Everyone kept grandma's "storm lanterns" ready. The Internet didn't exist. Telephones used DC power provided by the exchange.

    This incident demonstrates how dependent we've become on modern services and that individuals and companies alike need to prepare for temporary loss of essential services. My cousin in Houston was not prepared and his water is now shut off while waiting for a plumber to fix a broken pipe in one bathroom. The city of Brenham wasn't prepared and lost water pressure. T-Mobile was not prepared and their customers suffered the consequences.

    It's not a problem unique to Texas. Power outages in parts of California seem to be a weekly occurrence. On the Gulf Coast we're liable to lose power anytime during hurricane season. My son was without power for 24 hours in central Mississippi because an ice storm snapped power lines. The solution is for individuals and companies to have backups for essential services. This way, when disruptions occur they have minimal impact.

    BTW, I think it's interesting that new Ford F-150 hybrid pickups have a 2.4 kW or 7.2 kW AC generator capacity built in. This should be a standard on all hybrid and even electric vehicles.
    Just so you know, that's the gas f150 with the generator. Ive also seen electric cars with gas powered generators as backup for when the batteries die. Like the generator recharges the battery.

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    Last edited by jmac32here; 02-21-2021 at 03:34 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DRNewcomb View Post
    Define "significant". As I mentioned earlier, Texas could suck up all the electric generation capacity in Louisiana and Arkansas and barely replace the about 50% of the wind turbines that were offline. Since Arkansas & Louisiana were both also experiencing a record cold wave, all that would have happened is to bring down the Eastern Grid along with Texas'. There's not much to the west. Texas experienced a 50% increase in demand for electricity over what is normal for this time of year.
    "The state does have the ability to import, or export, electricity, but the amount is tiny. Ercot can move about 800 megawatts of power via interconnections with the Eastern power grid and about 400 megawatts of power via linkages with Mexico. The infrastructure to do more isn’t there."

    https://www.barrons.com/articles/why...it-51613680628

    Texas wasn't MW short. They were GW short. Mexico was in the same predicament and didn't have any to sell.

    Think about the numbers. 1% below "planned and expected supply" but only about 50% operational. This means that 50% of the wind turbines were planned to be offline. Why? Shouldn't wind be providing for the the baseload with fossil fuels only kicking in to cover the peak demand? I'd expect wind turbines to be operating at least 90% of the time. Or is it that wind generation is really only built for tax credits and show?
    Then the fuel problem needs to be addressed by having these plants hold an emergency supply of fuel oil on hand. It seems clear that one can't count on wind and solar to meet peak demands. 50% of the wind capacity was offline for whatever reason and solar doesn't work at night or in a snow storm. The grid needs a power source you can rely on to meet surge demand. What do you suggest? More wind? Texas has a peak generation capacity of 124 GW. New Mexico: 8.7 GW. OK: 27 GW. LA: 24 GW. AR: 14 GW. Which of these states could jump in and fill a 50% increase in demand from Texas?...
    I don't know the exact answer about why wind was only 1% below planned, but 50% planned to be offline. Fuel oil storage is not the problem. The major generators don't use it. They use (approximately):
    (Nat) Gas 60%
    Renewable (mostly wind) 20%
    Coal 16%
    Nuclear 4%

    Nat gas is supplied on demand and not stored at the power plants. Nat gas availability was drastically effected by coincident high demand for residential and distribution diminished by frozen gear in its grid.

    The large amount of renewables in Texas is driven by federal subsidies making it more profitable to build than thermal. This normally serves them well. Their decision to install wind generators without deicing caught them with their pants down when a 100-year cold snap occurred, gas distribution even more so.

    I am not claiming to be the ultimate expert about this situation. There is no doubt some Devil in the details and CYA spin going on.

    It is unfortunate that this can't be relieved by calling congress back in session and funneling the hot air where it is needed. Listening to the rubbish they spout would be painful.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bobdevnul View Post
    "The state does have the ability to import, or export, electricity, but the amount is tiny. Ercot can move about 800 megawatts of power via interconnections with the Eastern power grid and about 400 megawatts of power via linkages with Mexico. The infrastructure to do more isnÂ’t there."



    https://www.barrons.com/articles/why...it-51613680628



    Texas wasn't MW short. They were GW short. Mexico was in the same predicament and didn't have any to sell.







    I don't know the exact answer about why wind was only 1% below planned, but 50% planned to be offline. Fuel oil storage is not the problem. The major generators don't use it. They use (approximately):

    (Nat) Gas 60%

    Renewable (mostly wind) 20%

    Coal 16%

    Nuclear 4%



    Nat gas is supplied on demand and not stored at the power plants. Nat gas availability was drastically effected by coincident high demand for residential and distribution diminished by frozen gear in its grid.



    The large amount of renewables in Texas is driven by federal subsidies making it more profitable to build than thermal. This normally serves them well. Their decision to install wind generators without deicing caught them with their pants down when a 100-year cold snap occurred, gas distribution even more so.



    I am not claiming to be the ultimate expert about this situation. There is no doubt some Devil in the details and CYA spin going on.



    It is unfortunate that this can't be relieved by calling congress back in session and funneling the hot air where it is needed. Listening to the rubbish they spout would be painful.

    Hot props on aircraft I understand. I never thought the wind turbines and it makes sense.

    Natural gas has a lot of condensation and moisture.

    BTW, Isn’t most of the posturing and CYA “hot air” originating from Austin?

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    Quote Originally Posted by bobdevnul View Post
    ........ Fuel oil storage is not the problem. The major generators don't use it. They use (approximately):
    (Nat) Gas 60%
    Renewable (mostly wind) 20%
    Coal 16%
    Nuclear 4%

    Nat gas is supplied on demand and not stored at the power plants. Nat gas availability was drastically effected by coincident high demand for residential and distribution diminished by frozen gear in its grid.
    .....
    Most natural gas and coal generators have the ability to use fuel oil in a pinch. It's just more expensive.

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