Guest “Ice Station Dallas Report” by David Middleton
Ice Station Dallas: 15 February 2021, 0630
Current Weather Conditions: 6 °F (-14 °C), 34 °F (10 °C) below “normal.” Approximately 4-6 inches of snow on the ground. It has been below freezing in Dallas almost continuously since 10 February. Snow began falling yesterday afternoon and by 1800, it looked like this:
Last night, our yard became a veritable winter wonderland…
Winter wonderland, as in wondering how much damage this will do to our landscaping.
Here in Dallas, we don’t often get long stretches of sub-freezing weather. The last time we had a similar stretch of freezing weather was 1983… Five years before Al Gore invented Global Warming (we could use some now). Most pools here are equipped with freeze-guard programs that run the pump whenever temperatures are below ~34 °F. Ours has been running since Wednesday apart from a ~1 hour break on Saturday afternoon.
Here’s how things looked at 0600 this morning:
Note that a layer of ice has formed around much of the perimeter. In addition to our beautiful weather, we can now look forward to this:
Hundreds of thousands of Texans without power as ERCOT declares highest level of energy emergency, ‘rotating outages’ begin
The state’s electricity grid will be overwhelmed as people try to keep their homes heated.
Author: Jennifer Prohov (WFAA), Jason Whitely
Published: 10:21 AM CST February 14, 2021
Updated: 4:49 AM CST February 15, 2021
Updated at 4:45 a.m. with updates from officials on the outages.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the agency that oversees the state’s electric grid, has declared the state of Texas at its highest energy emergency level, beginning rolling outages across the state.
The declaration is due to lower power supply and high demand due to extreme low temperatures during the winter storm sweeping the state.
Rotating outages are underway and started at 1:25 a.m. Monday. Residents should expect to lose power for 15 to 45 minutes, though times may vary. Oncor is advising Texans that they may experience multiple outage rotations.
Texas was already seeing record-breaking electricity demands prior to temperatures dropping even further Sunday night, ERCOT officials said.
At the same time, the grid is experiencing higher-than-normal generation outages caused by frozen wind turbines and limited natural gas supplies with individuals using it to heat their own homes.
About half of the state’s wind turbine capacity (25,000-megawatts) is not currently generating power because many turbines have become frozen. But, the turbines are still producing more power than typically expected.
“Wind is putting out more than we count on for the winter season,” Woodfin added.
The turbines that are operating are producing more than normal, he continued. It is uncertain whether there are plans to de-ice the turbines in parts of west and northwest Texas, ERCOT said.
Good News/Bad News: The wind turbines that aren’t frozen are generating more electricity than expected (it’s been fracking windy!), however half of our wind turbines are frozen and not operating. Since natural gas supplies are also being crimped due to record demand for home heating and electricity generation, if there aren’t plans, to plans to de-ice the frozen turbines, maybe they should work up some plans.
Just imagine if Donald Trump hadn’t been president from 2017-2020, Texas would have more wind power, less (if any) coal power and more solar power. Just imagine how much more damage the Harris-Biden Dominion’s reinvigorated war on fossil fuels might inflict!
The Day After Tomorrow – Dallas Edition is prima facie evidence that coal and nuclear power are essential components of grid resiliency.
- Natural gas is great, probably the best, fuel for electricity generation; but sudden onsets of extremely cold weather can cause supply disruptions.
- Wind works fairly well in Texas, and the operable wind turbines have performed better than expected over the past couple of days.
- Solar… Don’t make me laugh.
While our previous episode of rolling blackouts, Super Bowl week 2011, was partially due to cold weather inhibiting the operation of some coal-fired power plants, the problems were eerily similar.
Here’s What (Probably) Caused The Rolling Blackouts
By Kate Galbraith, The Texas Tribune
February 3, 2011
Initially, it appears, some coal plants went offline due to cold-weather problems, taking a large chunk of electricity out of the grid. Luminant, a major power-generation company, confirmed that its two coal units at the Oak Grove plant in Robertson County failed, as did two units at a coal plant in Milam County. “We are in various stages of startup and operation for that group,” said Allan Koenig, a Luminant spokesman via e-mail. Three of these four units only began operating in the last few years; Fraser, who chairs the Senate Committee on Natural Resources, noted that they had new emissions-control technologies, and said one question was how those technologies had handled the cold.
Natural gas plants were hastily turned on to make up for the coal-plant failures. But, said Fraser, some power cuts affected some stations for compressing natural gas — so without power they couldn’t pump gas, causing some gas power plants to go offline. In addition, rules regarding “curtailment” of natural gas — who gets first dibs on gas when gas supplies are tight — were last revised in 1972, said Fraser, leaving some power plants at risk of losing out on supplies. A large minority of Texans heat their homes with gas, in addition to the needs of the power plants, so there was extremely high demand for gas during the freezing weather.
“We didn’t have enough available gas,” Fraser said. An affidavit filed yesterday with the Railroad Commission by Trip Doggett, the head of ERCOT, the Texas grid operator, said that “certain gas suppliers may be curtailing natural gas to electric utilities or electric generation customers.” Koenig, of Luminant, confirmed that “one of our gas plants has been curtailed due natural gas supply restrictions.”
Wind generators also appeared to be having problems, said Fraser; he had received reports of some turbines shutting down because of issues with ice on the blades. “The wind was blowing yesterday, but I’m not sure wind generation was available because they had problems with ice,” he said. (At an Iberdrola wind farm near Corpus Christi that the Tribune visited yesterday, most turbines were spinning steadily, in response to the grid operator’s call for maximum production. But the plant’s operator, Daniel Pitts, said that a few machines were having issues because the cold air had affected the nitrogen in the hydraulic system that helps run the turbines.) Dottie Roark, a spokeswoman for ERCOT, the grid operator, said that yesterday morning between 5 a.m. and 8 a.m., about 3500-4000 megawatts of wind was available (the state has about 10,000 Megawatts of wind installed).
When natural gas supplies are short, home heating receives priority… The funny thing is that we have a natural gas furnace, stove and hot water heater, but none of them work when the electricity is out. Must have been some Aggie engineering involved… 😉
It’s now 0940 and the Sun is actually shining and the temperature is now in double digits… 11 °F.
To be continued…
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