As was discussed on the February 2nd edition of Pratt on Texas, the ERCOT (Electric Reliability Council of Texas) rolling blackouts across the state could have been prevented with better planning and policy.

Electrical engineer, Ross Aten, joined Robert Pratt to talk about how too many coal and natural gas power plants within ERCOT were taken offline for maintenance.  Ross also explained that if you, 'ran the numbers', the only way ERCOT could have met peak winter demand usage is if wind energy across the state was producing at significant totals. However, because of the ice storm and lack of wind, windmills weren't producing any energy.

That is scary to think about.  ERCOT without any public proclamation or policy announcement, put all of its proverbial eggs into the 'wind energy basket'. Or, think about it this way, because of bureaucratic policy and bad planning, millions of Texans had to deal with rolling blackouts during deathly cold conditions.

We heard some horrible stories on the show from people in Abilene that had electronics damaged, and destroyed, because of the electricity popping on and off during the rolling blackouts.

A quick aside, I know the term 'rolling blackout' has become accepted because it's a temporary blackout that is supposed to 'spread the pain', but in reality a blackout is a blackout.  It doesn't matter how your home or business doesn't have power.  If you don't have power, you can't work and in many conditions, can't live.

Luckilly (for today), the Lubbock Power & Light and Xcel Energy grids in the South Plains and Panhandle is not connected to ERCOT.  I'd imagine that if those two companies systems were connected to ERCOT, the rolling blackouts would have encompassed an even larger portion of the state.



The ERCOT-served portion of Texas is not out of the woods yet.  Here's an AP story discussing further rolling blackouts:

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The agency that supervises the electric power distribution grid for most of Texas has ordered an end to the rolling electrical outages.

However, a statement from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas warns that more rotating blackouts may come without notice.

The blackouts began Wednesday morning, a day after an ice and snow storm blanketed parts of Texas. ERCOT says "energy conservation is still critical during peak demand periods.

The ERCOT region includes Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio, Austin, Corpus Christi, Abilene and the Rio Grande Valley. ERCOT manages the flow of electricity to about 22 million Texas customers.

Rotating outages are defined as "controlled, temporary interruptions of electric service, typically lasting 10-45 minutes per neighborhood."

This just boggles the mind.  In a state that has always been 'self-reliant' and flush with resources, we're now relegated to acting like California with rolling blackouts.

Governor Rick Perry needs to get on top of this and the state has to continue fighting the EPA and its draconian policies concerning the new building of coal and nuclear power plants.  One in 12 Americans now live in Texas and we have to have new sources of energy to serve the ever-growing population.  Otherwise, the events of Groundhog Day 2011 will become the norm, rather than the exception.


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