Words of Advice:

"If Something Seems To Be Too Good To Be True, It's Best To Shoot It, Just In Case." -- Fiona Glenanne

"Flying the Airplane is More Important than Radioing Your Plight to a Person on the Ground
Who is Incapable of Understanding or Doing Anything About It." -- Unknown

“Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level
and then beat you with experience.” -- Mark Twain

"Colt .45s; putting bad guys underground since 1873." -- Unknown

"Stay Strapped or Get Clapped." -- probably not Mr. Rogers

"Let’s eat all of these people!” — Venom

"Eck!" -- George the Cat

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

If You Live in Texas (and other places), Don't Plug in Your Tesla

Griddy, which sells electtricity from the wholesale spot market, is begging its customers to go elsewhere.

This is why:

The spot price of wholesale electricity on the Texas power grid spiked more than 10,000% on Monday amid a deep freeze across the state and rolling outages among power producers, according to data on the grid operator’s website.

Real-time wholesale market prices on the power grid operated by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) were more than $9,000 per megawatt hour late Monday morning, compared with pre-storm prices of less than $50 per megawatt hour, according to ERCOT data.

To convert those to home numbers, that's a pre-storm price of five cents a kilowatt/hour and $9 KW/hr yesterday.

So, say you have a Tesla Model S. Those take about 100 KW/hr of power to recharge. Last week, if you had plugged it in, that cost you five bucks or so for a charge. But if you had plugged it in yesterday and you have one of those spot-power providers, that recharge set you back $900 or better.

A lot of conservatives are blaming this on closing coal-fired power plants. But they're very conveniently forgetting that one of the reasons that those plants closed was that they were not economical to run. Oh, of course, the state could have subsidized them so they would be cheaper to run, but there's a word for that: Socialism.

Also, remember when conservatives were poking fun at California for having rolling blackouts? Guess what they've been doing in Texas.

17 comments:

Eck! said...

If memory serves ENRON created the spot power market...

Their claim was to make energy commodity and cheaper.

Until there was money in speculation!

The problem with the spot market is it not there to
anticipate power demands its there to make money off
unused capacity and often it is excess, except when it isn't.

One wonder what that cold spell it did for the price
of LP/Natural/Propane gas for heating and cooking.


Eck!

B said...

And it was new environmental regulations that made those coal plants uneconomical (Not that i think that that was a bad thing, as they were pretty bad polluters). But still. Give the whole story.

Ten Bears said...

The whole story is wind and solar, though big in Texass and growing bigger, only account for about ten percent of the electrical production, hence only about ten percent of the problem.

Dark Avenger said...

Although of little health consequence, it is worth noting that burning coal produces fly ash that concentrates natural radioactive isotopes in excess of levels produced by nuclear power plants under normal operating conditions [9]. Disposal of toxic coal combustion wastes, orders of magnitude larger in volume than nuclear wastes, has also come under scrutiny [10].

http://www.suzukielders.org/the-pros-and-cons-of-nuclear-power-versus-coal/

Ten Bears said...

Addendum: my mother is in Waco, has been without power for twenty hours.

dinthebeast said...

I feel for them, actually.
Last month PG&E cut the power in advance of a windstorm in order to avoid wildfires, and the windstorm damaged their service lines enough that instead of forty hours, the power was out for six days.
Then, three days later, the snow started.
Four feet of it.
That one knocked the power out for three days, which was a little scary since we were snowed in. Everyone around here is used to it (except us, we moved here in December of 2019) and had generators for the duration. We have one, but it's not ours, and the woman who owns it (and the house) is out of town getting her truck repaired, so we didn't use it.
She did text us instructions, so if the power goes out again before she gets back, we'll hook it up and get the damn heater going.

-Doug in Sugar Pine

Comrade Misfit said...

It's a hell of a lot more than just iced-over wind turbines. Valves and piping in power plants are freezing over, for they weren't built for such cold. Also, a number of the generating plants burn natural gas and those supplies are running low.

Story. And here.



Stewart Dean said...

This morning there was an Ars Technica piece on the TX power grid (which has failed badly in the recent weird weather). This paragraph caught by eye. Everything was going fine until I hit the last 7 words. Which explained the whole problem

Texas is unusual in that almost the entire state is part of a single grid that lacks extensive integration with those of the surrounding states. That grid is run by an organization called ERCOT, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, a nonprofit controlled by the state legislature.

https://arstechnica.com/science/2021/02/texas-power-grid-crumples-under-the-cold/

It should be understood that the Texas Legislature, beloved in cordial fury by the legendary Molly Ivins, is one of the most backwards, corrupt, double-dealing legislatures on the face of the planet; imagine a legislature composed completely of Dubya, DJT and McConnell clones, but with less intelligence, more venality and less common sense.

Comrade Misfit said...

An ERCOT director told Bloomberg that problems were widespread across generating sources, including coal, natural gas, and even nuclear plants. In the past, severe cold has caused US supplies of natural gas to be constrained, as use in residential heating competes with its use in generating electricity. But that doesn't explain the shortfalls in coal and nuclear, and the ERCOT executive wasn't willing to speculate.

Comrade Misfit said...

As people are pointing out all over Twitter, there are wind turbines in Michigan, Vermont, Alaska, Sweden, and in Antarctica. They all run in very cold weather.

Maybe Texas just cheaped out and bought fair-weather turbines.

Glenn Kelley said...

If you have an EV and a little ingenuity you can power the house .

Ten Bears said...

Only for so long, Glenn, only for so long. Do it with a bicycle at that.

Bloomberg Business reports:

Don’t point too many fingers at Texas wind turbines, because they’re not the main reason broad swaths of the state have been plunged into darkness.

While ice has forced some turbines to shut down just as a brutal cold wave drives record electricity demand, that’s been the least significant factor in the blackouts, according to Dan Woodfin, a senior director for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which operates the state’s power grid.

The main factors: Frozen instruments at natural gas, coal and even nuclear facilities, as well as limited supplies of natural gas, he said....

Wind shutdowns accounted for 3.6 to 4.5 gigawatts -- or less than 13% -- of the 30 to 35 gigawatts of total outages, according to Woodfin. That’s in part because wind only comprises 25% of the state’s energy mix this time of year.

... wind generation has actually exceeded the grid operator’s daily forecast through the weekend. /

There were links in there but blogger buggered them

Glenn Kelley said...

Ten Gears,Yes but it's better than nothing. If you were just trying to survive a Tesla is good for 72 hours with just the heater on .That's at -20C out doors .

Comrade Misfit said...

Govs. Bush and Perry pushed hard for renewable energy. Perry doubled the targets set by Bush.

Stewart Dean said...

More on the roots of the problem
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/17/opinion/texas-blackout-energy-abbott.html

Ten Bears said...

My mother is just fine, just as disagreeable as ever. Will be eulogizing Rush on her blog today. She's no pilgrim, grew up in cold country; has down blankets, a propane radiant heater and well-stocked larder. Apparently having a grand old time down at the old folks trailer park hanging out kerosene lanterns. Laughing not too loudly about that land-line.

I have been fascinated with reading on the periphery of keeping an eye on her, having built and rebuilt more than a few houses, with the building techniques down there. Sounds like they've taken California Crapsman style to new heights, leaving me to wonder if they're even framed. Hear all this bragging on how they're built for hot weather, for hurricane season but sounds to me like they'd blow right over in a good, stiff breeze. No insulation? Seriously? Nothing to hold the cool air in? Insulation works both ways: holds both heat and cool air.

I'll admit that when my buddy and I were Volcano Builders, building double two-x-six framed houses with nine inches of insulation to withstand winters at four thousand feet in elevation close enough to the forty-fifty parallel to call it half-way to the North Pole, where sub-zero winters and hundred degree summers are not unique, was probably a bit excessive, but there's a lot to be said for our predecessors' use of mud and straw in the construction of their communities.

What kind of damned fool builds a house without insulation?

CenterPuke88 said...

Let’s cover a little ground here, now that we have power...

1) ERCOT leadership generally doesn’t live in Texas, about to change.

2) 18% of power generation facilities did a cold weather preparation “virtual” exercise this year, that’s it.

3) Requests to operators to winterize their equipment have been either ignored or declined because they said the winterization might slightly reduce hot weather generation ability.

4) The renewable energy sector lost half the capacity the gas/coal/nuclear sector did to cold weather, and was all that prevented a complete system failure at 1 AM on Monday.

5) The load shed directive ERCOT issued was a major factor in the number of 24-72 hour blackouts. Issued differently, the whole residential sector of the state could have been receiving power about 50% of the time while essential facilities remained energized. Instead of directing an immediate, phased, shutdown of power to industrial and commercial facilities, ERCOT allowed those to remain powered, even non-priority users, for almost two days and still haven’t fully implemented their official contingency plan.