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Toller

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Feb 21, 2018
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As the weather system which dumped the snow on Texas a few days ago has now arrived in the UK (though temperatures here are normal for the time of year) and it appears that the following weather systems are all due to arrive here as well, I thought :-

Why the power grid failed in Texas and beyond


WHAT HAPPENED IN TEXAS?

Plunging temperatures caused Texans to turn up their heaters, including many inefficient electric ones. Demand spiked to levels normally seen only on the hottest summer days, when millions of air conditioners run at full tilt.
The state has a generating capacity of about 67,000 megawatts in the winter compared with a peak capacity of about 86,000 megawatts in the summer. The gap between the winter and summer supply reflects power plants going offline for maintenance during months when demand typically is less intense and there's not as much energy coming from wind and solar sources.
But planning for this winter didn’t imagine temperatures cold enough to freeze natural gas supply lines and stop wind turbines from spinning. By Wednesday, 46,000 megawatts of power were offline statewide — 28,000 from natural gas, coal and nuclear plants and 18,000 from wind and solar, according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which operates the state’s power grid.

“Every one of our sources of power supply underperformed," Daniel Cohan, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Rice University in Houston, tweeted. “Every one of them is vulnerable to extreme weather and climate events in different ways. None of them were adequately weatherized or prepared for a full realm of weather and conditions."
The staggering imbalance between Texas' energy supply and demand also caused prices to skyrocket from roughly $20 per megawatt hour to $9,000 per megawatt hour in the state's freewheeling wholesale power market.
 
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Linda

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Oh, I have plenty to say, but I need to fix some food before the power goes out again. Maybe later.
 
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Linda

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Read both articles that do a good job of reporting facts and listened to the You are free video, which also raised some interesting behind the scenes points.

I've got a few observations that I'll share but frankly, I'm exhausted from dealing with the storm and now figuring out how to survive for several days without water. Power is back and higher temps should make roads passable if not tomorrow then by Saturday. Although it has been difficult for us, many others have had it worse.

First off - I saw in one of the articles that the energy operators could see how bad the storm was going to be but did not share the info. The same thing happened with the impending water system disaster. It was clear eariy on a huge water problem was looming, but the info was not shared. We were better prepared than many because we've been concerned about some kind of disruptions.

I saw in the neighborhood email group that people were sharing info, asking for help, offering help, and generally holding it together. I found this crucial to the positive spirit of the neighborhood. It also was clear that many lacked basic knowledge about where their water meters were and how to turn off the water. (It helps to have the special tool.) The question on how to handle water heaters was discussed and explained in detail for those who did not know. In this case, the group mind came together for the general good.

My take-away is that many people saw there was a serious lack of info from those who are supposed to know, and stepped up to figure it out as a group. Seems like seeds were planted to me.
 
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Toller

Toller

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It does look as though it should be warming up over the next few days.
 
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Sinera

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In my country we have almost springtime weather now for 2 days. Before that it was also friggin' cold. Not much snow though where I live.
 
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Linda

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It does look as though it should be warming up over the next few days.
Yes, a sunny day with temps above freezing - a little wren sat on the deck rail and sang to me.

The next steps are finding and repairing busted water mains. So, water still off for a few days, but there is a clear path forward.

Some power suppliers in Texas pass along the cost of acquiring the electricity to the customers, and there are reports of bills going from the $100s to $1,000s of dollars. As best I can tell, we don't have that kind of plan.

Here's what interests me - what will be the direction from here - will people get more vocal and involved in managing their power and future. I'd write more, but I need to harvest more snow for flushing in the days ahead. Not sure I ever imagined I would say those words - lol.
 

Linda

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Here is a sobering graphic - (as of 2.20.01)

Treatment plants and reservoirs of potable water failed for a variety of reasons. Many water mains developed leaks. All together, this means there is inadequate pressure to move water. They are trying to increase the levels of water in reservoirs and repair leaks as they are discovered. Meanwhile for the majority of the city - creativity reigns. For example, our local burger house modified their menu to adapt to no water. Many of us are rotating among family and friends who live in nearby towns for showers and a little laundry.

Ever the optimist, I've learned the proper sequence for turning water back on at a residence.

System_Performance_Map_02.19.2021_000hrs.png
 
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Linda

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As of the 21st, water started coming on line for most of Austin, and today (22nd), the boil water notice was lifted for the central zone. The neighborhood worked together through email, posting when their water was back, and we could track it across the area. We did not rely on official pronouncements, but on each other.

Questions rest heavy on the minds of many people, and I'm interested to see how that plays out. It is not logical for utility service in a metro area to be stacked so that one failing segment knocks out the whole system. Again, it is the question of local versus centralized. I'm pretty sure the majority of the city no longer is in favor of centralized service.

The number of preppers has grown substantially. There are discussions about the best brand of water filtration systems, for example.

The number of people stepping up to help others is remarkable - not only in my neighborhood but across the state. It occurred to me that with the possibilities of situations being set in motion by "others", it is much like the biblical story of Joseph and his envious brothers who sold him into slavery. When he returned he said to them that while they intended evil, God turned it to good, and he prospered.
 

Linda

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Still watching to see how the energy debacle shakes out. In the mean time, here is a lovely story.

There is a local woman who works part-time with a cat sitting business. When we had that a first snowfall awhile back, her Prius would not start. She said to heck with that and bought a 4-wheel drive Jeep. Fast forward to snowmageddon - no one else was able to get out, much less drive around town. For 3 days she made trips all over the city, checking in on the kitties. In some cases, the power had been off for awhile, and she had to break ice out of their water bowls. All the cats were fine because that's how we roll here - no kitty left behind.
 

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