Watchdog Group Warns Texas Power Grid Could Be at Risk Again If Operators Haven’t Weatherized Their Equipment

By B.N. Frank

During last year’s devastating Texas winter snowstorm, natural gas sellers made $11B.  $11B!!!  Because of the storm, utility companies proposed that ratepayers pay to “weatherize their facilities to withstand future freezes” AND the utility regulator approved a customer-funded plan to recover utility debt during the storm.  Nevertheless, some Texans may still be at risk for a repeat of last year.

From Zero Hedge:

Texas’ Power Grid “Could Be At Risk” Ahead Of Cold Blast

The primary grid operator for Texas, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), is preparing for another round of bitterly cold weather that may disrupt natural gas power plants.

National Weather Service (NWS) anticipates temperatures across parts of the Lone Star State to plunge Thursday and affect natgas flows to electricity generators.

The second round of cold air comes as the first blast of arctic air paralyzed several gas wells, processing plants, and other equipment to move natgas to electricity generators. As a result, about 10% of natgas production went offline for 48 hours. It was the most significant disruption to the grid since the state’s infamous February 2021 near power grid collapse.

On Thursday, temperatures in Midland, Texas, the Permian Basin oil and gas field location, will be around 18 degrees Fahrenheit, which is 15 degrees below average for this time of year.

“Gas wells are particularly susceptible to so-called freeze-offs because of the high volumes of subterranean water that typically flow out of the ground alongside the fuel. Wind installations also can be knocked offline by intense cold while overcast weather and snow disrupt solar-power output,” Bloomberg said.

“It is important to remember, however, as we have consistently stated, that some variation in production occurs with sudden temperature changes -– these are field operations, not controlled factory settings,” Todd Staples, president of the Texas Oil and Gas Association, said in a statement. 

Ahead of Thursday, ERCOT filed a report with state regulators that outlined most of its power-generating units comply with new winterization rules following last year’s power grid problems. The grid operator found ten generators out of the 302 inspected didn’t meet the new requirements to survive a winter storm. The generators susceptible to volatile weather represent a total capacity of 532 megawatts or about .4% of ERCOT’s generation.

“The Texas electric grid is more prepared for winter operations than ever before,” Brad Jones, ERCOT’s interim CEO, said in a statement. The units examined by ERCOT contribute about 85% of the power to the state’s grid. 

While Texas and much of the US brace for a colder back half of January, natgas prices linked to Henry Hub have been on a tear in recent weeks on the prospects of colder weather and snowstorms in the eastern half of the US.

“Winter is the key catalyst for gas, with the outlook in-line with our reserved view. Yet weather is volatile and softer output from well freeze-offs may help. Benchmarks in the $4 range are consistent with our view,” Bloomberg Intelligence analysts Vincent Piazza and Evan Lee said. 

“If we experience another severe winter storm before operators have weatherized their equipment, the grid could be at risk again,” said Virginia Palacios, executive director of watchdog group Commission Shift.

Also relevant to the 2021 snowstorm – last June, a hacker discovered that data collected by Texas utility companies’ electric “Smart” Meters could expose what infrastructure was protected (and what wasn’t) during the snowstorm.  That makes sense since “Smart” Meters are all about 24/7 customer utility use data collection.  On the flip side, countless issues have also been reported about all utility “Smart” Meters – (electric, gas, and water) and “Smart” Grids since they started being deployed.  The high costs associated with them are also usually passed on to customers.  Nevertheless, U.S. “Smart” Meter deployment has reached 65% and utilities continue to install these deplorable data-mining devices.  Online documentary, “Take Back Your Power”, provides more reprehensible details.  Opposition to “Smart” Meters is worldwide.

Activist Post reports regularly about utility “Smart” Meters, Smart Grids, and other unsafe technology.  For more information, visit our archives and the following websites:

Top image: Pixabay

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