From the Houston Chronicle.

Bottom line:  The power plants couldn't produce electricity because they couldn't get natural gas... because the electricity used to help deliver the NG along the infrastructure was shut off.  

I hope this is the correct forum for this.

https://www.houstonchronicle.com/business/energy/article/freeze-ris...

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It's a busted egg ('s).   Texas was driving 90 MPH down a dead end dirt road with no brakes.

 

Hahahahah.  Good one

Thanks, JHH.  Good article.  Here are the questions that comes to my mind after reading it.  Which is the most cost effective way to ensure electric generation during future extreme cold events?  We should keep in mind that most natural gas coming out of wells contains moisture.  All well pads include a separator to remove excess water from the gas stream.  Downstream, further dehydration may be necessary to make gas meet pipeline specifications.  So, that's a good bit of moisture throughout much of the system that can freeze.  What would it cost to harden the delivery system from wellhead to the electric generation inlet?

Would alternate "peak" generation options be more cost effective.  Geothermal might be a good candidate and the technology is advancing rapidly.  Electricity if generated at the well site by super-heated water powering a turbine.  Small form factor nuclear power is also getting a lot of attention of late.  Newer more efficient and safer designs also produce less spent fuel that must be properly and safely disposed.  When there is sufficient wind to turn a wind turbine, a portion of the electricity is used to heat the unit and continue to produce electricity into the grid.

Although politics will come into play, ultimately the means to protect against future instances of extreme base load loss will be a question of cost.

I really like geothermal and the small nuke plants options.  Not sure if it's cost effective or politically acceptable.  We'll see?  My knowledge is very limited to the few articles I've seen. The current delivery system needs to be "hardened" "winterized" at some point.  Since most pipelines in Texas are buried (at least 45" --I think-that's what our easement agreements require) maybe the winterization would be effective where the pipelines are exposed.  Seems the midstream companies would/could or want to do that as part of good business practice.  But again I'm not a real expert or a very good bean counter.  I saw somewhere recently that placing power plants/pipelines on the state "essential" list, much like hospitals, the pipelines could have continued to deliver NG to power plants.  At least the NG infrastructure would have electricity to continue pumping NG to power plants.  But again, I'm no expert.   This is a very good topic and I hope those in Austin get it figured out and done to make sure this doesn't happen again.

Although politics will come into play, ultimately the means to protect against future instances of extreme base load loss will be a question of cost.  

The cost to prepare for extreme weather that only comes once a decade will be too much.  Most folks here have already forgotten about the storm and have moved on to the other issues that they face everyday.

But...the climate is changing.  We were told 25 years ago that events of extreme weather will become common.  Yearly events are already happing and the cost of those events are increasing.  We will have to be realistic about climate change and it's cost. 

Texas doesn't have enough money to fix everything.  The roads here were damaged by the ice and it's going to cost billions just to repair them.  Our leaders will have to find revenue from somewhere and the short term answer will be higher tax's and energy prices.

Higher taxes and energy prices in Texas will be a heavy lift.  I'm curious about the prospects of operating companies potentially investing in hardening some natural gas infrastructure, may not 100% of their systems, to take advantage of price spikes in extreme cold weather events.  That would not entail taxes or energy prices.  Comstock/Jerry Jones got lots of media attention for the big financial windfall that the cold snap brought the company.  A few other companies that received less media notice also appear to have benefited. 

The addition of some alternate peak load generation sources such as those discussed above and connecting the Texas/ERCOT grid to the national network might be enough to avoid the catastrophic black outs in the future.  I agree that the expense of hardening the entire Texas grid system is likely too great but I think there may be some less expensive options that would make some sense.

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