ERCOT: Controlled blackouts may not be needed today *Update*

*Update:* A second day of controlled blackouts may not be necessary, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas said early Thursday  because “immediate concerns for the possibility of rotating outages this morning are reduced.”

The agency still asks that customers reduce power use until 9 a.m. to lessen the possibility of blackouts.

ERCOT  said it will continue to monitor the state’s electric grid for lost power generation. The grid still has about 3,000 megawatts of generation out of service because of the extreme cold.

***

Texas grid operators are asking customers to go easy on the power usage Wednesday night between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. and from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. Thursday morning because of the “strong possibility” of a repeat of rolling blackouts that hit many hundreds of thousands of customers earlier today.

The grid continues to have more than 5,000 megawatts of generation out of service due to the effect of the extreme cold, according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the main grid operator for most of the state.

Peak demand tonight is forecast to hit 54,900 megawatts between 7 and 8 pm.

The forecast for tomorrow’s peak load as of 5 p.m. Wednesday afternoon is 56,800 megawatts between 7 and  8 a.m. That would top ERCOT’s current record for winter peak demand of 55,878 megawatts, which occurred on Jan. 8, 2010.

Up to 7,000 megawatts of power plant capacity was unexpectedly knocked offline early on Wednesday, leading the a call for planned outages throughout the state to avoid a larger failure.

At its peak up to 330,000 Houston-area customers of CenterPoint were offline.

The power emergency was called off at about 1 p.m. as more power plants were able to come back online.

Power restoration may not be immediate,  however. CenterPoint spokesman Floyd LeBlanc said that outages that occurred today for more typical reasons — such as a tree falling on a power line — weren’t as easily discernible to the company during the power emergency. That means it may have taken longer to get work crews out to fix those problems.

Some of the suggestions CenterPoint has for conservation today and tomorrow:

  • Turn down electric furnace/heater thermostats to 68 degrees or lower;
  • Limit the use of electric appliances to only those that are needed most and avoid performing non-essential chores such as laundry and running the dishwasher;
  • Reducing the opening and closing refrigerators, freezers and doors.

98 Comments

  1. Herschel

    Nice

    #1
  2. D.J.

    60% chance of snow on Friday…Uhhhh what will that be like? Did you cut enough to cover that Ercot?

    #2
  3. ntangle

    7 GigaWatts! Maybe they need some flux capacitors.

    #3
  4. rob

    add one million electric cars to our grid and what will we get????

    Oooppps….did not think about that?!

    #4
  5. ray

    good thing i have a fireplace. and spam. and a coat hanger. dinner!

    #5
  6. pmshop

    “So, why doesn’t CenterPoint give warnings?

    Logistically, it’s pretty difficult, says company spokesman Floyd LeBlanc.”
    —————–
    Just put your little finger on that box on your desk caled a TELEPHONE and call the major news outlets. They will do the rest Floyd!

    #6
  7. Sam

    My wife is a junior high school teacher. She called and told me they have had 4 blackouts today at thier school. Many of the classrooms do not have windows (for security reasons) and when the lights go out their room are pitch black! She has had classes of 30 teenagers start yelling and screaming each time the power goes out! They then have to take the students into hallways and sit them under the emergency lights until the lights come back on because it is too cold to take them all outside. It was mentioned already, but WHY were the school districts not notified about this ahead of time. Many people are commenting on here about losing power, do you have children? Where are they right now? Street lights out and buses bringing thousands of children home. Sounds like a PR disaster for schools!!! Hospitals and nursing homes not affected, how about schools with all of our children. There are thousands of students sitting in hallways right now under emergency lights! There is a story if you ask me!!! Comments on this please???

    #7
  8. Here in Southeast Texas our sole power provider Entergy has power to spare. We are NOT de-regulated and out bills are lower. Ask you politicians in Austin, how de-regulation is supposed to be better. For the record I spent 42 years in the power generation business, I know quite well what a farce de-reg is.

    #8
  9. plutoniumpete

    Do we really trust them? Reminds me of ENRON and the so called California energy shortage…

    #9
  10. klm

    Jerry’s world was exempt for the superbowl-it takes 21 watts of power to keep it running! We don’t want the professional athletes to get too cold!

    #10
  11. Marc

    I believe there is something very, very wrong with ERCOT..

    #11
  12. CaptSternn

    Too many people rely on electric heaters these days. I never have understood that, especially here in Southeast Texas where natural gas is plentiful and cheap. My heaters, wather heater, clothes dryer and oven all run on natural gas. I may lose lights, TV and computer if the power goes out, but that’s what oil lamps and books are for. Then again, I do have a small generator, so not even that would be much of an issue.

    #12
  13. GMRich

    According to Hannity, Obama is to blame, and according to Sarah Palin, these blackouts prove that global warming is a myth.

    #13
  14. Da Funkee One

    As much as i complain about having to pay a gas bill in an apartment (most apratments are all electric) i’m glad my heat adn hot water is powered by gas. i may lose power but at least i can still be warm. this sucks though having the grid shut down because of a hard freeze. thank goodness its just for a few days and not like upstate.

    #14
  15. skw

    Turn the thermostat to 68 degrees? It is now 56 in my house – the furnace won’t ignight.

    #15
  16. Keith

    Build more nuke power plants. We use more energy in August on a 100 degree day I would think than a cold spell but no matter we need more power plants.

    #16
  17. Matt Simpson

    The brilliance of the whiners here is impressive. “21 watts of power to keep the super bowl running”. Go check your light bulbs, a single incandescent light bulb is usually at least 30 watts, more often 60 watts or more. And the reason there was such little notice is that failures occurred overnight at power generation sites and this was not planned. ERCOT took action at 5:30AM to stop an overload on the grid from causing damaging unplanned extended blackouts from happening. The future of the USA is hopeless because we have raised so many whining, illiterate complainers who think they are entitled to a free ride but are clueless to reality and contribute nothing positive to our country.

    #17
  18. Eric

    Sam wrote:

    > “Many of the classrooms do not have windows (for security reasons)”

    What kind of a world have we made for ourselves when classrooms do not have windows “for security reasons”? Isn’t that being a bit paranoid? I’m sure glad I’m old enough that I never had to go through such irrational fear as a kid. But then again, when I was in school we didn’t have air conditioning and had to open the windows in the classroom to improve airflow, so we wouldn’t boil alive in May and September.

    #18
  19. Witty Nickname

    What we need is 1.21 gigawats, the only thing that could produce that amount of energy is a bolt of lightning, unfortunately we never know when or where it might strike.

    #19
  20. Matt Simpson

    GMRich, can you provide actual quotes from Hannity and Palin or is this just your cute way of trying to stir things up? Or did you hear this on Huffington Post? So much of the things that “Palin said” are pure distortions and outright lies by the leftist liberal media. I don’t watch Fox and I am not a Palin fan, but I am really tired of idiots like you just making up junk.

    #20
  21. Norman

    This is total BS, demand today has to be half of a summer day of 98 degrees.
    And how the flip can 7,000 megawatts of power plant capacity unexpectedly get knocked offline???
    Who reports this stuff Pravada??

    #21
  22. Commonsense

    Capt. Sternn:

    Yeah, I have all of those gas appliances too. But your gas heater will be useless without the electric blower, your dryer won’t turn on without electricity, etc. Having a gas stove, however, does allow one to cook if you light the burners with a lighter or match.

    But all of this is beside the point. This cold weather was predicted last week Hardly a surprise, and ERCOT is one giant snafu. Ask Johan about what the problem is, because he nailed this one.

    #22
  23. Deregulation should end. Since deregulation we have had nothing but sky rocketing energy bills and a unreliable electrical grid. There should be an investigation why this took place. It was not a surprise to anyone it got cold, so why did it happen?

    #23
  24. wearblackhelmets

    If electricity is at such a risk right now, then the state should ask all districts to close their schools for the next 2 days & not make them make it up later. Closing schools might be an answer to keeping homes warm.

    #24
  25. Norman

    Just answer the stinking question:
    How can 7,000 megawatts of power plant capacity unexpectedly get knocked offline???
    That is alot of freaking power capacity.

    #25
  26. Adler

    What they’re not telling you is that the missing capacity was from those famous Obama approved windmills. They all got blown off line by the high winds, and there wasn’t enough coal, gas, oil, or nuke generators ready to pick up the slack.

    #26
  27. cekeys

    Will the blackouts be likely since power consumption in Commercial properties will be reduced during the night? I mean does an office building need to have all the computers running all night? Not likely. Will McDonalds run the fryers all night? Probably not–unless they’re a 24-hr branch.

    #27
  28. In my humble opinion Ercot needs to be dissolved and put in either the eastern grid or the western grid. Either way this will make more power available (this will also put them under the eye of the federal energy regulatory commission (FERC). This would create another set of eyes. Our PUC has appointed by the governor. It has a lot of PU in it.
    They also need to resurrect all of those old dinosaur power plants along the Houston ship channel. They weren’t the most efficient but they were reliable. As for natural gas, here in Southeast Texas we have been getting reports of low gas pressure. This happened last year and the gas company had to send trucks of compressed gas out to keep up the pressure. It seems the gas company has not kept up with the growth in the area.

    #28
  29. James

    I will NOT freeze my behind all night in my home because of those incompetents!!! I encourage everybody to turn all their lights on!

    #29
  30. Vernon Williams

    This problem here in Houston is clearly not because of too much demand here, which has to be trivial compared to the hot summer months with a million AC units going full blast, when most people probably heat with gas anyway. My winter electric usage, even at times like this, is nothing compared to my summer usage.

    The problem is because a bunch of power plants in north Texas, largely owned by one company, were not properly designed and/or maintained to be able to stand this kind of weather, probably to cut costs, which is stupid, because north Texas very often has nasty winter weather (unlike Houston). That negligent company deserves to pay for this mess, probably should be sued for lost productivity due to its negligence.

    #30
  31. largo

    you mean to tell us that when it’s 100 degrees in summer and all the pool filters are running and all the AC units are going 24/7 that that is less demand? there are no black outs then? most homes have a mere blower motor running in their heater that is GAS heat and that takes up a FRACTION of the energy. what’s up with this? something stinks.

    #31
  32. txlady

    Sam, you wanted comments?
    On what, exactly?
    Are we going to make a federal case out of the fact that some high school kids are sitting in the dark?
    Is this such a newsworthy item that it should supercede all the other news of the day?
    And, if you are so concerned about all those kids sitting in the dark — why don’t you suggest to the school that they put a few of those emergency lights INSIDE the classrooms, instead of just in the hallways?

    Like I said, I’m sure you would rather the hospitals and nursing homes had their power cut, so your children could sit in their brightly lit school rooms.

    Hope that’s enough of a comment for ya. I could go on, but my momma told me if you couldn’t say anything nice… well, you know the rest (maybe, but I’m not sure, based on your post.)

    #32
  33. bill

    I’m retired and live in an all electric home. I had three outages today, each lasting about 45 minutes. I live in northwest Houston. My daughter and son-in-law live near the Galleria. They had NO outages. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

    #33
  34. TH

    I’m with you Sam. My company had folks working in buildings that were freezing because the heat demand could not overcome the cold from the blackouts. We were short-staffed in many areas because daycares and schools were closed or had limited power. It is inconceivable to me that our energy providers have such poor facilities management, disaster recovery and contingency plans. Certainly they have regulatory requirements and oversight for this? Did that all collapse? I’m very angry about all of this and believe this to be gross negligence on the part of these providers and the regulatory agencies. Let the whistle-blowing begin!

    #34
  35. tanstaafl

    7,000 megawatts is the equivalent of around 15 good-sized power plants. Please tell me how all of these plants went offline simultaneously. Is there anyone who does any reporting anymore, or do we just get press releases?

    #35
  36. txlady

    Bill,
    Coincidence, what?
    you live Northwest, daughter lives near Galleria.
    So? where’s the coincidence?
    Do you live near a hospital, nursing home, or emergency service installation? Does your daughter? Is she on the same grid as a hospital, or a police substation, or fire department?
    The priority is to keep emergency and medical care facilities online.
    My boss had no power outage today, because he is on the same grid as a hospital. I had multiple outages, because I’m not on the same grid as emergency facilities.
    Which would you rather have — power at your house, or power in the hospital if you need immediate care?

    #36
  37. Energy Moron

    Howdy Neighbor:

    What is the problem?

    Even with the clouds today the solar PV did wonderful and I generated over 20 kWH, 2/3 that of a summer day! Are they building these coal fired plants on the cheap or something?

    And for those complaining about the electric cars (environmentally unfriendly in some areas, like Texas, owing to the coal generation), I agree with that.

    And I am going to run my 250 watt heat lamp on the mother of all backflow preventers (necessary because of the turkey solar hot water… don’t get that if you are going solar!) to keep it from freezing tonight and tomorrow since tomorrow might not get above freezing according to sci-guy. I am not apologizing since my average maximum rate is 850 watts and one of the articles today talks about how 1 MW can service 200 customers… which works out to 5 watts.

    #37
  38. Trey

    TXLady, you need a timeout.

    Johan, largo and TH, you’re right on the money.

    (i’m a different Trey than the ‘breathlessly wrote’ one. But that Trey has a point….)

    #38
  39. smarterthantheaveragebear

    smarterthantheaveragebear
    February 2, 2011, 4:50 PM
    Why I’m even wasted my time reading these comments, or even going to the touble of posting a reply to these ridiculous, uneducated comments posted by a bunch of arm-chair expert I’ll never know. Maybe become deep at heart I’m a masocist, nope I think it’s becuase I’d like to pass on a little education, a little nugget of knowledge from me to you.

    First off folks it’s a low of 23 degrees out, 23! When is the last time any of you arm-chairs out there felt like going outside and doing any work when it was 23 degrees? Prolly never from the piss poor belly aching I’ve read in all the comments. Here’s a secert neither do mechincal things, i.e. power plants, tranmission lines, transformers, you know bulk of these types of things make up our power grid.

    Allen up there has it right, it’s not that it hasn’t been this cold before, it’s never gone from 70 freaking degree 3 days ago to 23~! and the whole state is below freezing. The plants were dropping like flys, they lost more than 10% of the generation over night. The reason for the brown outs.

    Know lets talk about why your power went off for an hour or two… More ppl using power then they could generate… remember the 7,000 mws of lost gen? Well the way they fix that is to turn a few ppls lights off. They do this because if they don’t they could loss the whole thing. That is a black out! Rather than be out of power for an hour or 3 think days… like 2 or 3 days. Ask the folks in the midwest how bad power outages are due to icing. It’s bad, like imagine being stuck in your house for 3 days with no power, and it’s not a blamey 23 degrees there either, it freaking -10~!

    And Allen is alson right 7000 mws did not go to another state, ‘tard there are only like 800 mws of tranmission lines to transfer power out of the state, so unless these ‘enron-ites’ built out 6200 mws transfer line limit out there overnight. Everything is on the up and up, just weather folks.

    If you want your power to stay on, you need to move a home on the same circuit as a hospital or a critcal care unit… Other than that, you’re not that damn special, get over yourself and be glad you only missed ‘Kardashains’ and ‘Jersey Shore’ for one hour.

    It’s food for thought people… It could be worst, we could all be protesting for regime change like they are in Egypt just so they can afford the luxuries like a few loafs of bread. Get over yourself and please please don’t breed, this world is already full up on stupid people with self entitlement issues.

    -smarterthantheaveragebear

    #39
  40. amgems

    So the ERCOT braintrust is asking us to believe that residences are consuming more power now than last July when we had 10 days above 100 degrees? Why no rolling blackouts then?

    By the way, what genius came up with the math formulas used to calculate how much power the state of Texas requires at peak emergency moments?

    As an aside, it was nice to find that my children’s elementary school enjoyed rolling blackouts on the same day my daughter was diagnosed with an ear infection – all the while I understand the officials and partcipants in the Super Bowl were exempt from any chilly discomfort because, you know, we has our priorities.

    Somebody at ERCOT, like Doggett, has some explaining to do to the people of Texas, especially the elderly in drafty old houses who received no warning before having their power cut ON PURPOSE in the worst winter conditions since about 1973.

    #40
  41. cougartino

    Yeah, right!

    #41
  42. gnj

    This is officially Siberia!

    #42
  43. Energy Moron

    Howdy Neighbor:

    More commentary… Thinking about this article going to pick up my youngest from piano lessons gets me even more angry at the Texas power situation.

    I am having a home energy audit done on Tuesday AM just in case you are interested in stopping by and seeing what the professionals look for.

    Now, as to the 56,000 MWh. There are what, 8 million households in Texas in 2000, make that 9 million today probably?

    Take or German neighbor (or myself… different paths to the same goal). We use 10 kWH per day during the winter. Never more than 1 kW (in my case, probably the same for our neighbor).

    So that is 9,000 MWH household use if we had efficient households in Texas.

    It is fundamentally stupid to keep building power plants. Stupid.

    Especially coal ones.

    To run electric cars.

    In the dark and rain if this were a Hemmingway novel.

    #43
  44. MrOldMan

    Yes, I’d like to know – exactly – what 7000 megawatts got knocked offline “unexpectedly” – and how. With details. I smell something very, very wrong here. We have plenty of excess winter capacity and I know that for a fact. We are basically in the idle mode. So unless someone turned off some power generators, we shouldn’t be having these issues. We need to investigate ERCOT and find out why 22 degree weather causes us to live in the dark ages.

    #44
  45. sam

    txlady
    February 2, 2011, 4:48 PM
    Sam, you wanted comments?
    On what, exactly?
    Are we going to make a federal case out of the fact that some high school kids are sitting in the dark?
    Is this such a newsworthy item that it should supercede all the other news of the day?
    And, if you are so concerned about all those kids sitting in the dark — why don’t you suggest to the school that they put a few of those emergency lights INSIDE the classrooms, instead of just in the hallways?

    Like I said, I’m sure you would rather the hospitals and nursing homes had their power cut, so your children could sit in their brightly lit school rooms.

    Hope that’s enough of a comment for ya. I could go on, but my momma told me if you couldn’t say anything nice… well, you know the rest (maybe, but I’m not sure, based on your post.)

    Wow TXLADY, I’m sorry for even bringing this up. Nevermind. Schools (and our children) are fine. I guess that it was out of line that I should be concerned that tens of thousands of children were affected by this today. I am not complaining about one thing in regards to the schools, they did a great job of dealing with this. All that I was saying is that if ERCOT and Centerpoint knew this was going to happen, they could have at least made 4 phone calls to the local superindendents and told that that tens of thousands of students would be without lights, food service and heat today. Sorry again TXLADY, didn’t mean to bother you today….

    #45
  46. henry

    Sam, schools are hardly a priority next to hospitals and nursing homes with life critical equipment. Plus there is a school in just about every neighborhood, so how would they accomplish the rolling blackouts?

    I have a better question. Why are there no windows in the classrooms? Seems like a serious fire safety issue to have a completely enclosed room with only a door exit. Why aren’t there emergency lights in the classrooms with no windows?? There’s your story!

    #46
  47. smarterthantheaveragebear

    okay look folks this is real simple… would any here say that, a 100 degree day is the same a day that pretty much at or below freezing?

    nope it’s not. why bear why? well i’ll tell you. one water freezes at 32 degrees, almost EVERY power plant used reheated water to turn a turbine to move a generator to produce megawatts. Well think about to 2nd grade science class and remember water freezes at 32 degrees! Oh may!

    SO Bear you’re telling me that the same thing these power plants use to transfer heat (water) also could freeze when the temps are below 32?!!~?

    Yep, that’s the plain and short truth, water freezes on these plants, and in turn breaks stuff. not to mention it doesn’t have to be the plant themselves that break, it could be a power line or even the nat gas compressor station used to supply these plants with fuel.

    SO there it is, why 100 degree temps are no problem but 23 is.

    #47
  48. James King

    Quit ur whining………..I got family up north in South Dakota, & they had
    -27 below 0 with winds of 30 MPH, OR -50 below 0!!! And, they STILL had to get out & do chores, feed cattle, help calves birth, etc.

    23 degrees is a heat wave.

    Buck up.

    #48
  49. Indcwby

    I’m sorry but this is bull. Why is my cousin in Chicago staying warm ALL DAY in his home during a blizzard with electricity while here in Houston, with no snow or ice, we are being asked to conserve? Is our power being sold to other states?

    I’ll tell you what, cancel some activities for them super bowl stars. Kill the power to street lights all over the state. What about those on the PUC and ERCOT, kill their power. Why must the residents of Texas suffer for their failures and lack of preparation?

    #49
  50. i_bob

    Guys, these are rolling blackouts. Giving notices would not be possible. Think about it. You can survive 15min or an hour without dying.
    And while I don’t like deregulation, it’s not deregulation that caused the power plants to go offline. And yes, summer demand is higher than winter demand. But the summer peaking plants are completely shut down. They can’t just be turned on with the flick of a switch.
    Of course, one might wonder why ERCOT didn’t plan for extra reserves to be ready in case of this. It’s not like they’ve ever dealt with this before, so they should have been expecting the unexpected. Then again, maybe they did all they could. None of us here are experts on electricity generation, so we probably shouldn’t jump to conclusions.

    #50
  51. i_bob

    Lots of facilities are exempt. Oil refineries are exempt. So I’m sure this is part of a massive conspiracy. Or it’s because a power outage at a refinery is a heck of a lot riskier than outages at a few thousand houses.

    #51
  52. Bruce

    The blackouts were necessary due to high demand and an unexpected number of generating units that trip off line during the cold. Much of ERCOT’s generation was built within the last ten years and are highly automated using many instrument lines to relay the control information to the operator in the control room. These lines are very small and do freeze. Once frozen, the controls get data that’s out of range which it interprets as a problem causing the unit to trip. Once the unit trips, more instrument lines freeze up making it difficult to return the unit to service. This weather includes low temperatures and high winds, which have seldom occurred in the last ten years around the entire state. The plants may not have been designed for this weather and since they are of similar design, they are all failing at the same time.

    #52
  53. i_bob

    And you complain about rolling blackouts likely without knowing the alternative. It doesn’t take much of a frequency imbalance in the grid to cause complete regional blackouts. That’s the alternative. Quit whining that your “poor” kid with an ear infection had to “suffer” through a few minutes at school without electricity. I’m sure it dropped to a frigid 65F during those few minutes.

    #53
  54. PCDhouston

    here’s a suggestion for CenterPoint: since you’re a regulated monopoly why don’t you build sufficient infrastructure to cover the service area you alone can call yours? You seem to have no trouble getting approved for plenty of profits.

    As far as the answer to the question on many folks mind here on this blog – the REASON for the unexpected loss of all those megawatts is this: some idiot in Austin forgot to protect their water pipes last night at two coal burning power plants and then they couldn’t get their natural gas powered back-up plants to work as efficently as they’re supposed to because, you guessed it – the inclimate weather. My kids know to protect the water pipes in a hard freeze. Wasn’t it just earlier today that I read right here that ERCOT was saying that there would be NO rolling blackouts Thursday.

    #54
  55. Beth

    To Sam–
    I appreciate your comment about schools, and I sympathize with your wife’s situation. Kinda. I’m also a teacher, and when the power went out today, not one child in my classroom was screaming or acting crazy. Why? It’s called classroom management. If your wife had control of her class, there wouldn’t be this issue. Period. Sorry, but that’s the reality of school teaching– if you can’t handle them in a ‘crisis,’ you really don’t have any control, at all. So, the electricity going out isn’t the issue, really.

    #55
  56. JDS2

    txlady, what you fail to realize is that all hospitals and emergency health facilities have their own back-up power systems. If the power is shut down on their grid, they see no impact. So stop the bleeding heart c##p about hospitals. They’re fine.

    #56
  57. PCDhouston

    So, Matt Simpson, how long did you say that you’ve been working at ERCOT? b/t/w, Simpson? That rings a bell. You any kin to Homer?

    #57
  58. Drew

    60,000 people were without power in Indiana, a state with 6 million people. There were NO blackouts. Why? What is wrong with the Texas grid? Something seems amiss here.

    #58
  59. Doorman

    We fight in Iraq/Afgani, send billions in overseas aid, get pissed on by the people we are ‘helping’ yet bridges are failing, the roads are a mess, we argue about educating children in the country illegally, oil and gas prices take our spending money and we get blackouts when it gets cold/hot.

    There is nothing wrong with this picture. This is democracy heading toward destruction.

    Sit by, its all good.

    #59
  60. Southern

    Quote: “As much as i complain about having to pay a gas bill in an apartment (most apratments are all electric) i’m glad my heat adn hot water is powered by gas. i may lose power but at least i can still be warm.”

    Gas Heaters don’t do you very much good when the fan that blows the air across the gas-heated coils is powered by electricity. Same with gas operated dryers; you might be able to heat the drum, but unless there’s electricity, you can’t blow the hot air INTO the drum, or turn the drum..

    The only gas appliances that work without electricity are stoves & hot water heaters.

    #60
  61. phil

    I have heard for years how wonderful ERCOT is. Now the organization has failed us, the rate payers. Reliability is in the name. Pipes failing in cold weather. Where was the planning? Unbelievable! What does the Public Utility Commission of the Great State of Texas have to say about this? This is the free market economy of the State of Texas. Where are you, Gov. Perry, trying to protect your donors?

    #61
  62. SarahATP

    “add one million electric cars to our grid and what will we get????”
    -=-
    All the Oil Companies moving to the electricity business. Now wasn’t that a short walk?

    #62
  63. Rick in Houston

    The power generators exist to maximize profits for their share holders in the Texas power market the Republican legislature and Goveneror deregulated. The storm is just a profiteering opportunity expresslely created for them. News reports say “ERCOT forecast peak demand would top 55,000 megawatts on Wednesday and 57,000 MW on Thursday before dropping to about 47,000 MW on Friday. That is still well below the grid’s 2010 summer peak of 65,715 megawatts.” In other words, there is still at least 10,000 megawats out of use for what ever reason.

    So what has this storm shortage done to prices? News reports say “Wholesale power for Thursday delivery traded as high as
    $500, up from about $70 for Wednesday, as cold weather was
    expected to persist until Friday.” In other words the power generating companies are more than making up in price what they have lost in the amount of electricity being sold.

    Like I said above, its just a proift making opportunity too good to pass up. “Power plant froze up – oh gosh darn, I wonder how that happened?” If you are a share holder in a power company, be sure to thank the Goveneror and your local legislator.

    #63
  64. Pasqual

    My guess is that those who think they are better informed and much smarter than most of us will blame this freeze and power outages on either 1) Global Warming; 2) Greenhouse Gas Emissions; or 3) Both of the above.

    #64
  65. i_bob

    Lot of drama queens in Texas these days.

    #65
  66. Rick

    And this is just a “regular” happening. Just wait until the dirty bombs come in through our “safe” Southern border and all hell breaks loose in our cities. And you think you’re inconvenienced now?

    #66
  67. Energy Moron

    Howdy Neighbor:

    One of my daughters read your article and offered during dinner that perhaps she should not take a shower tonight. So this started a discussion of water heating…

    25% of the amount of energy in the record electric generation is probably going off into space, never to be used for anything useful.

    From water heating tanks.

    Note I am saying amount of energy… some is generated by electricity, some by natural gas… but I calculate and will show why that I think about 13,500 MW are being wasted through hot water tanks.

    That is 25% of 56,800 MW.

    I will try to link an image (might not work) of hot water heating requirements for solar and tankless:

    Assuming the image shows up, the black line and the rede line are the gas used for heating water and heating the house (I use water to heat the house) before and after installing solar hot water. Nothing happened. Why? Well, during the summer when it is sunny the garage is hot anyway, so who needs a solar water heater? During the winter, losses from the tank are a killer. Now, the solar water heater has a much better insulated tank, but the recycle of the heating water into the tank meant there was a lot of water that could cool down.

    The blue line is the impact of making changes which lowered my AC bill by a factor of 6. They only impacted my gas bill by a factor of 2.

    Indeed, while the Chronicle last winter was running stories about 200 dollar plus gas bills last winter I was very upset about our 50 dollar bills and decided to get to the bottom of it.

    Turned out it was losses. Have a next-generation tankless (has a small tank… is called a hybrid…); there are actually two installations now on Bluegate. Anyway, the green line is the results this winter. Note the factor of 2 improvement.

    This is strictly losses into the garage or attic, in other words, might as well be outer space.

    So let’s do the numbers.

    Over 1 kWh energy per DD per day. Right now it is at least 35 degree days below 65 F in Texas on average. This translates into 36 or more kWH per day, or 1.5 kW.

    There are roughly 9 million households in Texas. So, assuming that only a fraction have tankless water heaters, take 1.5 kW times that and get 13,500 mW

    I don’t know how much of that is from electric water heating.

    And no a smart meter doesn’t help

    #67
  68. Dan

    I agree there is something wrong here go to the ERCOT WEB SITE AND IF YOU CAN MAKE CENTS OUT OF IT NEVER SEEN SO MUCH DIS INFORMATION WHO PAYS THEM I KNOW ITS A ADD ON IN OUR BILL LINE .6666666 PER KWH * 10MIL RATE PAYERS SO MUCH FOR DEREGULATION

    #68
  69. i_bob

    If you guys would do a little Googling, you’d find that the cold weather shut down a number of industrial transportation and production facilities. You’d also find that some of the power plants that were offline were that way because their natural gas supply was cut off.

    Of course, the knee-jerk reactions and conspiracy theories are much more interesting.

    #69
  70. Sven

    That’s a bunch of BS. It is NOT cold. Might be cold for Texas, but the power plants are all the same everywhere. MI has the same plants, and they get below 0 all the time. All we had was mid 20′s. You can’t tell me that our plants can’t make it through a day of mid 20′s. If that was the case, there owuld be something seriously wrong with them

    #70
  71. Dack_Leonard

    Funny, in the heat of the summer when it is 98 “feels like 110″ and everyone in Texas has the ELECTRIC air conditioning running full power, we have zero “rolling blackouts”. Now, a little chill and we have rolling blackouts despite the fact that heat is provided by multiple sources (gas, electric, propane, wood) plus those that enjoy the crispness and keep the thermostat low. What a sham. He is trying to turn this country into a third world blackout country like his good friends in Venezuela. Shame shame. This is what you voted for a third world socialist society. Enjoy.

    #71
  72. BAM

    I work at an HISD HS, power went out about 4 times not counting the two times we hade to go outside because of the fire alarms going off. Needles to say there was absolutely no teaching/learning today, there will be none tomorrow and Friday. $$$$$$$$$$ for the district? Yeap!!!!!!

    #72
  73. RightWingDino

    Wonder how long it will take for CenterPoint, et al to petition the state for yet another fee hike to “make up for cost incurred” due to this storm?

    #73
  74. Jim

    Basically you had insufficient surplus capacity and then some power plants went off line because some fool forgot to do the equivalent of wrapping your pipes. The temperatures of this cold front were well forecast. Texas has had plenty of cold spells in the past that were much worse and just as rapid. It is idiotic to believe that this was some kind of surprise or event that could not have been avoided.

    #74
  75. Jim

    I don’t know which is the cause but I would bet it is one of two things and maybe both. 1) Deregulation most likely means natural gas and electric providers are not building as much surplus capacity as they did when everything was regulated and they could easily raise the rates to be paid back for a new power plant. The really sad part is it seems very questionable that it has saved us any money as far as electric rates go so we gave up the predictability of regulation and do not appear to have gained anything in return.

    I’m not yet saying we should re-regulate but I sure think we should check into it and see some solid proof that we are at least saving money. If it saves us enough money then maybe it is worth putting up with the more frequent power problem in bad winter or summer weather that tighter capacity brings us.

    2) The second factor is I suspect environmental regulations. Remember the major coal plants that were canceled a few years ago because the company decided the environmental fight was not worth it? There’s your 7000 megawatts and then some. Again, I’m not saying we should necessarily ease up on the environmental permitting but we should be honest about it. The belief that global warming is caused by co2 and must be stopped by any means is quite likely a major reason we are now suffering blackouts. The problem is not that there is a price to be paid. The problem is that the activists lie about it and pretend there is no price to pay.

    #75
  76. Timothy Menard

    OK people here it is all hospital, police department emergency. building all have back up power that will come on with in a few second of the power going out. And now as of these school most of all the school are getting up grades where in every room there will be and emergency. Light on that are place right in front of the door. And most of the school have there own back up power for that school now. So if your light goes out deal with it or get your own back up power for your house where you don’t start crying any more………

    #76
  77. Powercompaniesneedregulation

    Excuse me, an hour loss? My home lost power from 6:00 AM (for an hour), every 45 minutes until the brown out was over. We would be on for an average of 45 minutes an off for another 45. THE WHOLE TIME.

    My daughter is terminally ill and we couldn’t keep the house warm enough. If it had been equal, I’d have no problem. However, my sister (no where near a hospital or anything) lost power once for a total of 10 minutes.

    Something isn’t right here.

    #77
  78. Robert

    I want to know why we won’t given heads up on this, to give us a chance to buy batteries or get the generators ready, gased up, you know, these outages were a surprise to all of us. somebody’s got some explaining to do.

    #78
  79. Martin Mize

    My question is WHY WASN`t Everyone affected by the rolling blackouts??????????????????????? I have friends and coworkers that never lodt electricity, while I lost it 5 times, lasting between 30-60 minutes.

    #79
  80. L taylor

    Turn off the power to River Oaks Blvd. and the country club. Yeah, that ain’t gonna happen.

    How long does it take a Rolls Royce to get warmed up? I don’t know ask the butler. Nice way to get through the power outage waiting in that driveway.

    I have increased my power consumption. It’s like summer in here just in case the power does go off I will be alright for a couple of hours. Guess I should go take a hot bath while I can.

    #80
  81. Indcwby

    smarterthantheaveragebear, you are the arm chair politician who is trying to defend what’s happening. You say they didn’t expect weather to go down? Weather reports have been out for a long time knowing that a strong arctic front was heading our way. They say pipes broke at the power plants. Shoot, they don’t know how to wrap pipes? Or winterize them pipes. These were Dallas plants that see more snow than Houston. They know to expect extreme winter weather. So when you try to talk again, don’t act cocky about how you know more than anyone else.

    #81
  82. uncle mark

    Nothing like a strong PUC…….”Puppet Utility Commission” looking out for the people.

    #82
  83. mike cu

    Well you are either sending our electricity somewhere else or here is a hint, stop selling to those greedy “developers” who tear down one home and put up four, or nuke an apt complex and replace it with an eighteen story “developlment”
    Hey this is bunk. If you cannot handle your customstop expanding.

    #83
  84. I have a son on life support in my home,now I have to go out purchase a generator for safty of son.Nothing ever better happen to him because of these rolling black out games ya’ll are playing.Amen

    #84
  85. T.C.

    NW Houston where we live had 4 rolling blackouts within 4 hours. Never supported deregulation. Duh, no excuse for Power generators in North Tx. Their issue should not be out problem. They should be fined and made to eat any costs in remedying the issues. Customers should not be made scapegoats. The executives/senior mgmt are sitting pretty with bonus/high salary. NO Accountability. Any noise made by the politicians is just “hot air”. No substance or real action.

    #85
  86. Al troner

    Will the Council change its name to the “Electric Unrelaibility Council of Texas? It certainly would be more apt….

    #86
  87. Brian

    I love how some of you blame CenterPoint for not alerting the media to the rolling blackouts, yet you’re reading about them IN THE MEDIA? I don’t get it?

    #87
  88. Sam

    To Beth:
    Do you teach special needs teenagers in inner city Houston? Every situation is different. My wife did a terrific job handling the situation yesterday. For you to suggest that she lacks control of her classroom because the students were startled and made noise when the room became pitch black, is unrealistic in my opinion. I’m sure that you would have done a better job….
    I do however appreciate that you are a teacher. I respect all that you have to do for our children for the little pay that you receive.

    #88
  89. SaltWaterCroc

    Well, what do you know? We aren’t impacted by the blackouts because we aren’t part of the deregulated areas under ERCOT. We can’t choose an alternative power company – we only have one choice (Entergy). Just like we only have one option for high speed internet (Comcast) and one choice for land lines (Consolidated Communications). While there are many issues (like paying $60 a month for Internet access), there is one upside – no blackouts yesterday. If I can get an alternative to Comcast, I’ll take the blackouts.

    #89
  90. TejasNative

    The reason power plants were off line causing brown-outs or black-outs is the owners of the plants did not adequately freeze-protect the plants. All power plants generate steam to drive steam turbines that drive power generators. The water (feed for steam) lines were not adequately protected from freezing using steam lines/traps, heat tracing and insulation. They saved a few bucks by not protecting the plants. Instead of risking possible freeze damage to these plants, they shut down the plant causing the brown-outs and/or black-outs. QED

    #90
  91. JimH

    You can thank the green agenda while you sit in the cold & dark. They block every attempt to add new power plants to serve a growing population. So we are left with the same number of power generators for more and more people. Accuweather is predicting 20 to 30 years of even colder Winters based on the La Nina cycle in the Pacific, so be prepared to spend a lot of time sitting in the dark singing kubaya. Thank you environmentalist wackos!

    #91
  92. Neal

    Good – because it was not “equally distributed” as reported. I heard from many people who did not experience a single blackout, while my home and office experienced 5 from Tuesday night until Wednesday noon. What happened in Austin may have also happened here: http://www.statesman.com/business/austin-energy-admits-only-some-areas-endured-rolling-1229082.html

    #92
  93. BSOD

    So the power plants must have repaired the pipes that froze? All I ever hear is authorities preaching to everyone to plan for cold, protect plants, PIPES, pets, etc. Yet our own infrastructure doesn’t heed the same advice. Because of it thousands suffered without power and I saw one news report last night of a man who died because his oxygen machine didn’t work. This is completely assinine and from what I can tell avoidable. Get your together! Everyone else did!

    #93
  94. Catalina

    Could it be that we are saving power for a successful super bowl ?..Big bucks are at the stake here , it would not surprise me if this is the real
    issue.

    #94
  95. txlady

    JDS2 — you probably won’t see this, but I was busy last night preparing my house for any potential problems relating to the freeze, snow, possible power outages, etc, so didn’t get a chance to comment last night.

    I believe you misinterpreted my comments — there was nothing bleeding heart about them.
    first, yes, all hospitals have backup generators — but the power company STILL puts the grids that contain necessary services on a different priority for brownouts. Grids that contain hospitals or other emergency services are going to have their power cut off AFTER grids that contain nothing but residential and commercial.

    I have a lack of tolerance for those people who are coming on this blog and posting all their whining about how heads should roll, because the poster didn’t take the time to be prepared for ANY emergency, yet demands to know why an emergency affected them.
    So bleeding heart? Not on your life.

    And TH — No, I don’t need a timeout. It’s whiners and conspiracy theorists who run around blaming everyone else for their problems, and looking for someone to pass the blame off to, and looking for someone to fix everything that goes wrong, because they couldn’t take a few minutes to prepare themselves, who need to take a timeout.

    #95
  96. txlady

    And Sam, sorry, but I still think the responsibility for the problem with the school lies with the school district. They should (as ALL of us should) be prepared for emergencies. And that would include putting emergency lights INSIDE classrooms that do not have any windows.

    #96
  97. I am going to ask these crooks to lower the cost of electricity, how about that?

    #97
  98. Tom

    If we have a rolling blackout when it’s really cold, when some of the Houston resident have fireplaces and gas heating, what is going to happen this summer when it gets real hot and no one has a substitue for electricity to provide cooling!!!!!

    #98