By B.N. Frank
Not only have Texas utilities proposed that ratepayers pay to “weatherize their facilities to withstand future freezes.” It was recently revealed exactly how much natural gas sellers profited during February’s deadly snowstorm.
From Ars Technica:
$11 billion in 9 days—Texas’ natural gas sellers cashed in on deep freeze
State’s gas supplies halved during cold snap, but sellers made record profits.
While Texans froze and natural gas-fired power plants tripped offline during a February cold snap, natural gas traders and pipeline companies made up to $11 billion in just nine days. The handsome profits came thanks in part to a system that left utilities and customers dependent on the state’s lightly regulated natural gas market, which some are comparing to a black box.
Texas’ grid collapsed in the early morning hours of February 15. The incident was caused largely by coal, natural gas, and nuclear power plants that failed due to equipment that was not prepared for the frigid temperatures. Equipment problems at gas power plants were compounded by a lack of supplies. In the days leading up to the blackouts, the chair of the Public Utility Commission of Texas spoke with the governor’s office 32 times about natural gas curtailments caused by a shortage of supplies.
Early gas shortages may have been more severe than previously known, according to a new report by BloombergNEF. In the six days before the outages began, daily Texas gas production dropped by nearly 6 billion cubic feet, almost a quarter of the state’s total. That was due in part to producers shutting down wells in advance of the cold weather. Producers’ equipment may not have been winterized, either, and fracking requires massive amounts of water, which can freeze pipes and wells. After the blackouts began, gas production dropped another 5 billion cubic feet over the next several days as wells still operating lost power. By the end of the blackouts, almost half of the state’s natural gas production was offline.
Gas providers canceled their contracts with utilities and power producers, which had to turn to the volatile spot market to make up the shortfall. As gas supplies tightened, traders and pipeline companies could charge “almost any price they wanted,” power executives told Bloomberg.
Two major players in the Texas gas pipeline system reaped substantial windfalls from the disaster. Energy Transfer Partners reported record earnings for the first quarter, securing a profit of $3.29 billion compared with an $855 million loss for the same quarter in 2020. Kinder Morgan, another large gas seller in Texas, made $1.41 billion in the first quarter this year compared with a loss of $306 million in the first quarter of 2020. We’ve reached out to both companies for comment and will update this story if we hear back.
Also noteworthy – a hacker discovered that data collected by utility companies’ electric “Smart” Meters could expose what infrastructure was protected (and what wasn’t) during the snowstorm. Of course, countless issues have been reported about utility “Smart” Meters – (electric, gas, and water) and “Smart” Grids for over a decade. The costs associated with them tend to also be passed on to customers. Online documentary Take Back Your Power, provides more shameful details. Opposition to “Smart” Meters is worldwide.
Activist Post reports regularly about “Smart” Meters and Grids as well as other unsafe technology. For more information, visit our archives and the following websites:
- Coalition to Stop Smart Meters
- EMF Safety Network
- Smart Meter Harm
- Smart Grid Awareness
- Smart Meter News
- Smart Meter Education Network
- Take Back Your Power
- The People’s Initiative
- Wireless Information Network
- Electromagnetic Radiation Safety
- Environmental Health Trust
- Physicians for Safe Technology
- Wireless Information Network
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