ODESSA, Texas (Nexstar) — It won’t be necessary to save energy Wednesday night, said Brad Jones, interim executive director of the Electrical Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT).
Jones visited Odessa City Hall on Wednesday to meet Basin leaders.
“We knew the storm was going to hit us, in a few hours,” Jones said.
The basin is expected to freeze over for the winter on Thursday. But it’s not like the February 2021 hurricane, or even, the devastating hurricane seen in 2011. Despite that, Jones said Thursday’s freeze will be an opportunity to see the grid on how the state will operate.
“Since the winter storm, we have operated the grid in a much more prudent and reliable manner than before,” Jones said.
More important, however, is why Jones meets with Basin leaders: to talk about why the state’s power grid won’t go into crisis mode.
So what has changed over the course of a year? Jones says it’s three things.
First, Jones said the Texas Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has made regulations for electricity producers, also known as generators, to avoid freezing. Freezing, or weathering, is the act of protecting a building and its interior from the elements, especially from sunlight, precipitation, and wind.
If these generators aren’t frozen, Jones says, they could be fined by the PUC.
So, what does it take to cool a power plant?
“It’s the insulation around the equipment that’s particularly sensitive. It’s heat path is basically a conductor that is heated and then it is insulated on top. It’s also inclement weather – just build a structure around something that in times of wind chill can freeze over,” says Jones.
Second, Jones says local distribution companies are better prepared for when loads are cut, even if it means distributors have to find other customers who can share electricity. power, when electrical action is required. Right now, Jones says about 60% of energy consumers statewide are on a critical circuit network. These include water treatment facilities, hospitals, and homes for individuals with special needs. Only 40% of consumers are eligible for electric rotation in the state, Jones said.
Third, communications are said to have been improved in ERCOT, so that a clear message can be effectively shared with all Texans, generators and distributors, about an imminent power outage or power-saving efforts. Previously, Jones said three people were running communications for ERCOT. The number has since grown to six. There is also a recently formed crisis communication group. Jones said urgent checks were made with industry communicators, such as power plants and distribution companies.
“I believe all of our generators are ready and prepared for this storm, and that’s how we communicate these events.”
In early 2021, the state of Texas saw severe weather that left thousands of homes without electricity and water. The storm also Deadly.
During the summer, demand for electricity peaks once a day, Jones said. That peak is near the middle of the hottest day. But during winter, there are two peaks: in the morning and in the evening when the cold is most intense. A year ago, a winter freeze led to generational underproduction problems across the state. As a result, Texans were left in the dark, some for more than a few days. Jones said the energy output lost in Texas is equivalent to the entire energy output of California in one day.
The loss of power output was mainly due to weather conditions such as freezing rain, which affected wind turbines, damaged natural gas units and frozen coal piles.
Jones said that during the 2021 hurricane, ERCOT bought the rights to shut down the small industrial powerhouses, but still didn’t have enough generations to meet the load demand. Then, ERCOT talked to local distribution companies to cut down on customers. When generation fails, ERCOT has to balance load and distribution, says Jones.
What’s more, Jones said the state’s generators died before the 2011 hurricane, but that was in 2021 when the storm “was another storm.”
Jones also touts ERCOT’s collaboration with climatologists and meteorologists to improve both payloads and weather forecasting.
https://www.yourbasin.com/news/local-news/ercot-interim-ceo-visits-odessa-to-talk-power-grid-winterization/ ERCOT Interim CEO Visits Odessa To Talk About Gridization