By Mike Smith, Meteorological Musings
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas said 7,000 megawatts of generating capacity tripped [“tripped” means failed]Tuesday night, leaving the state without enough juice. That’s enough capacity to power about 1.4 million homes. By rotating outages, ERCOT said it prevented total blackouts.
“We have the double whammy of extremely high demand, given the lowest temperatures in 15 years, combined with generation that’s been compromised and is producing less than expected or needed,” said Oncor spokeswoman Catherine Cuellar. Oncor operates power lines in North Texas and facilitated the blackouts for ERCOT.
— above from the “Dallas Morning News”
The article didn’t give a clue as to what generating capability failed, but I can make a pretty good guess: Wind energy.
When the wind is light, the turbine blades do not turn. And, the coldest nights usually occur with snow cover and light winds. The 9pm weather map for the region is below. The red number at upper right is the current temperature and they are well below zero deep into New Mexico and parts of Kansas and Colorado, so regional power use is high. Springfield, CO was already -15°F. Temperatures are in the single digits and teens over most Texas with very light winds in the areas where the turbines are located.
|Map courtesy National Center for Atmospheric Research|
For a time, Texas was bragging about being the #1 state for “wind power” (it still is) and we were bombarded with TV commercials and newspaper editorial touting the “Pickens Plan” for massive spending on wind energy. Pickens himself was building a huge wind farm in northwest Texas. He has now ceased construction.
|Wind power capacity in 2008. Texas has more than twice as
much as any other state.
Now, because of relying so much on wind power, the state is suffering blackouts. My book’s publisher, Greenleaf Book Group in Austin, was without power all day and Austin wasn’t even affected by the recent winter storm. Mexico is trying to help by shipping power to Texas, but it is not enough.
If Texas had made the same dollar investment in new coal and/or nuclear power plants they would probably be snug and warm tonight. Do we we really want to sacrifice our families’ safety and security along with business productivity during extreme cold for the sake of political correctness?
Also FYI – Texas wind power induced blackouts happened in 2008, see this story.
See Mike Smith’s book on “how science tamed the weather”.
THE PLOT THICKENS. Please read the addition to this story (at the bottom): http://meteorologicalmusings.blogspot.com/2011/02/equal-time-american-wind-energy.html