February 15, 2021 — The Texas electric grid management entity ERCOT says it lost enough generating power overnight to power hundreds of thousands of homes even as an unprecedented Winter storm moved in, so balancing the severe resulting unprecedented demand with the loss of supply is challenging — that’s why as many as two-million or more are without power.
But it appears the demand-vs.-supply is starting to balance.
Demand for electricity in Texas set a new winter record on Sunday evening and has continued to climb.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas‘ Senior Director of System Operations Dan Woodfin said Monday morning that some electricity generating systems — most of them natural gas, coal and nuclear — failed to gear up correctly on Sunday night and into Monday morning, leaving a gap of about 16,500 MW that would have helped allow ERCOT to meet the huge demand during this Winter storm, and the loss is now being felt in the overall Texas energy supply.
Some wind power that ERCOT was counting on was lost too, with some turbines frozen in the icy winds.
In all, though, a huge 34,000 MW of power has been “forced off” the Texas grid system for varying reasons, Mr. Woodfin said — enough to power hundreds of thousands of homes.
The grid operator decided about 1:30 Monday morning to require electricity delivery companies such as Oncor and Centerpoint to roll power outages among their customers based on a percentage of the companies’ stake in the ERCOT system, but as the amount of available power dropped low, the rolling outages solidified into longer-term blackouts while more generating capacity is being brought online.
So rolling blackouts turned into what might be called “controlled outages,” forcing customers without power to endure the electricity loss for four, six or more hours.
And while it looks like power will be restored later today to those who’ve been without, others will likely be forced to remain without power throughout today, tonight and some well into tomorrow before the system can begin a return to normal as more capacity is found.
Those who are without power are mostly on grid sections that do not include hospitals and/or emergency operations, and when companies such as Austin Energy decide which areas will suffer “forced outages” it’s done at random by computer generation, according to Oncor, which is handling the largest percentage of customer outages.
ERCOT does not decide where and when power is shut off, but electric delivery companies do.
Part of the problem in Texas is the lack of available power from outside sources, when under circumstances — such as in August 2019 when power demand set a new record — electricity could be imported from outside the ERCOT grid.
ERCOT President and CEO Bill Magness said on Monday that “Every grid operator and every electric company is fighting to restore power right now.”
So now it’s even more critical for those who do have power to reduce their electricity needs by keeping heat temperature settings low and putting off washing clothes for a couple of days, so that those without power can begin to return to normal.,