Blackouts… Because Climate Change! Blame Natural Gas!

Guest “They got it bass-ackwards, once again” by David Middleton

Electricity operators must wake up to climate change — or brace for summer outages

Summer may still be a month away, but electric system operators are already feeling the heat.

With above-average temperatures forecast for much of the U.S. in coming months, system operators are facing the prospect of high electricity demand and reduced supply, which will make it difficult to keep the lights on. System operators should have expected this. After all, it is well known that climate change is driving average temperatures up and leading to more frequent heatwaves, which stress the electricity system. But many system operators still aren’t planning for this new normal. If they don’t start soon, the consequences could be devastating.

Electricity consumers in Texas saw a preview of what might be coming last week. On Friday, at the start of a multi-day heatwave, six of the state’s natural gas power plants unexpectedly went offline. As temperatures in some areas approached 100 degrees Fahrenheit, the Texas grid operator Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) asked residents to limit their use of air conditioners and other large appliances. Most residents complied and widespread power outages were avoided. But one has to wonder – if this is happening in May, what will July and August look like?


Unless and until things change, and system operators begin planning for the impacts of climate change, we should all brace for more summer outages.

Romany Webb is an associate research scholar at Columbia Law School and senior fellow at the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law.

The Hill

Presumably, Ms. Webb is calling on system operators to increase generation capacity because climate change? ERCOT appears to be doing just that…

14 Apr, 2022

Outlook 2022: Solar nearly half of planned 27 GW of ERCOT capacity additions

Author Selene Balasta Anna Duquiatan

Theme Energy

Electric Reliability Council of Texas Inc., the Lone Star State’s primary wholesale grid operator, is expected to see another record-breaking year in 2022 with planned capacity additions of 27,242 MW and zero scheduled retirements, according to an analysis of S&P Global Market Intelligence data.

A year after the deadly February 2021 Arctic blast that paralyzed the state’s electric grid and triggered rolling blackouts, Texas has taken steps to improve grid reliability.

All but three of 324 power facilities fully passed ERCOT’s winter weatherization inspections in January, and the grid operator was able to withstand a cold front that moved into the state in February 2022. However, some industry experts question whether the system is ready to handle another storm as intense as in February 2021.


S&P Global Market Intelligence

ERCOT’s capacity additions should please folks like Ms. Webb.

Fortunately, despite the addition of more unreliables to the ERCOT grid, natural gas will remain the dominant fuel… Which leads us to this:

Electricity consumers in Texas saw a preview of what might be coming last week. On Friday, at the start of a multi-day heatwave, six of the state’s natural gas power plants unexpectedly went offline. As temperatures in some areas approached 100 degrees Fahrenheit, the Texas grid operator Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) asked residents to limit their use of air conditioners and other large appliances. Most residents complied and widespread power outages were avoided. But one has to wonder – if this is happening in May, what will July and August look like?

Demand for electricity typically spikes during the warm summer months, with the highest peaks occurring during summer heatwaves, when people rely heavily on their air conditioners to stay cool.

Just as people struggle with the heat, so to do many electricity generating facilities. Natural gas power plants, in particular, operate less efficiently and so produce less output when temperatures are high. Delivering electricity also becomes more difficult as higher temperatures can impair the operation of transmission infrastructure and result in more electricity being lost before it reaches consumers.

The Hill

July and August will be hot in Texas. If July and August weren’t hot in Texas, it would be anomalous. One of the reasons why the February 2021 blackout was so bad was the fact that most of the thermal powerplants in Texas are designed to handle hot weather, not extreme cold weather.

This bit is particularly funny:

On Friday, at the start of a multi-day heatwave, six of the state’s natural gas power plants unexpectedly went offline.

The Hill

The link is to a Bloomberg article, of course…

Texas Calls for Power Conservation After Six Generators Fail
Gas-fired plants make up all generation that failed: Ercot
West Texas to see extreme heat in some spots next week

By Naureen S Malik and Mark Chediak
May 13, 2022

The Texas grid operator called on residents to conserve energy Friday after six generation facilities tripped offline amid hot weather, prompting power prices to spike.

The power-plant failures resulted in a loss of about 2,900 megawatts of electricity, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas said in an email statement Friday. That’s enough power for about 580,000 homes and businesses. Natural-gas fired plants make up all of the generation that failed, an Ercot spokesman said.



ERCOT did put out a conservation request. However, at no point did the actual grid conditions even approach “Yellow”…

Green = The grid is operating under normal conditions.

Yellow = Energy conservation is requested.

Orange (Energy Emergency Level 1) = Emergency operations have begun due to low power reserves, but there are no controlled outages at this time. Energy conservation is requested.

Red (Energy Emergency Level 2) = The emergency level has been raised due to continued low power reserves. Energy conservation is requested. It is advised to create a plan in case controlled outages are needed later. Those with critical medical needs should register with their local utility and have a backup plan.

Black (Energy Emergency Level 3) = The highest level of emergency operations. Local electric utilities have been instructed to begin controlled outages. Health and safety should be made a priority by using city or county instructions and resources. Energy conservation is critical.


The ERCOT dashboard didn’t look a whole lot different than this over that climate change induced blackout weekend:

From May 12 to 15, peak power demand was less than ERCOT’s peak demand forecast.

And there was no drop in natural gas generation over that period either.

ERCOT hourly generation by source. HOURLY ELECTRIC GRID MONITOR
ERCOT daily generation by source. HOURLY ELECTRIC GRID MONITOR

Wind power actually did experience a sharp drop off over the climate change induced blackout weekend (May13-15), while natural gas continued to ramp up and down in response to wind’s downs and ups:

Wind = Blue Curve, Natural Gas = Red Curve. HOURLY ELECTRIC GRID MONITOR & The National Weather Service

Why is it that nearly every article about natural gas failing winds up revealing a wind failure?

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Tom Halla
May 19, 2022 6:10 pm

We already have too much wind on the Texas net for it to be stable. The worst factor is that there are purchase rules for wind, so other sources are disfavored, and less invested in.
Revising producer pricing, so the subsidy miners into wind have to pay for their required backup, would be in order.

Reply to  Tom Halla
May 19, 2022 6:31 pm

Not needed.
Just have an open wholesale market for power. Remove all special privileges, demands, requirements and subsidies. The government has no business picking winners and losers and certainly no right to force ratepayers and taxpayers to subsidize favored players. Allow the wholesalers and distributors to buy power from the provider which seems best to them for whatever price they can negotiate. The “problem” solves itself.
We used to call this way of doing things “A free country”.

A whole regulatory regime was introduced into the industry featuring rules and fees galore. This was not that long ago, and was based on nothing crackpot theories.
Some people want to “fix” the rules. The rules can just be done away with.

Reply to  TonyL
May 19, 2022 8:02 pm

Yes but a competitive market needs rules on dumping as power consumers require a dispatchable level playing field along with frequency and voltage control from suppliers. Random electrons dumped at the whims of weather is an oxymoron from a consumer perspective.

Reply to  observa
May 19, 2022 9:10 pm

Some years back, I heard of something completely new to me. A device called a “reactive transformer”, complete with schematic diagram. A studied look at the schematic showed it should:
1) do absolutely nothing.
2) short itself out in spectacular fashion.
3) Both 1 + 2 at the same time.
In other words, I was completely confused by this thing.

The issue was Germany dumping excess wind power onto the electric grid of Poland. Germany was not really exporting power to Poland. Rather, they were dumping their grid instability of and making it Poland’s problem.
Enter the reactive transformer. The purpose of it is to accept any desired amount of power from a source and reflect the excess back to the source. The transformer is fully adjustable, moment to moment. Always, in the past, just the mention of installing such transformers on an interconnect would get the offending party to behave themselves. Germany did not take the hint. The order was placed, the order was filled. Poland installed the transformers. The end of Germany’s nonsense with Poland.
Again, not taking the hint, the German minister said, no problem, they still had options to export to, particularly Italy and Switzerland.
Instantly, both Italy and Switzerland placed orders for sets of reactance transformers.
After that, I always wondered how that all worked out for Germany. However it did go, Germany did not seem eager to talk about it.

Yes but a competitive market needs rules on dumping
The private market seems to have come up with absolutely vicious solutions to this type of bad behavior.

Reply to  TonyL
May 19, 2022 9:42 pm

In this country the Dems would soon make using such a device a criminal offense.

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  TonyL
May 20, 2022 12:35 am

Then you need to have markets in two different products. Firm power, which entitles you to compensation for non delivery, and intermittent power, which is cheaper by allows that your supply may be cut any time there are difficulties. It will be the poorer neighbourhoods that can only afford intermittent power. Politically interesting though…

Reply to  Tom Halla
May 20, 2022 9:16 am

plus I HATE Bird Choppers!

joe - dallas
Reply to  Tom Halla
May 20, 2022 11:54 am

The texas electric fiasco of Feb 2021 – Fossil fuel electric generation lost appro 35% generation on that fatal Feb 15th. While wind and solar lost 90% of electric generation on that fatal day.

But its not wind or solar’s fault

May 19, 2022 6:24 pm

The solution for energy stability is so simple I don’t understand how someone in Webb’s position can’t see it. Build fewer wind and solar generators and more coal, gas and nuclear generators, problem solved. This is not rocket science.

Reply to  Bob
May 20, 2022 6:35 am

“This is not rocket science.”

Actually, for most people, including most politicians, it IS rocket science:
First, watch “The Best of Jaywalking” to understand the intellect of the general populace.  🙂

In Layman’s Terms:
“Stupid people are too stupid to know that they are stupid.”
“Intelligent people have no idea how stupid really stupid people actually are.”

Clyde Spencer
May 19, 2022 6:33 pm

After all, it is well known that climate change is driving average temperatures up and leading to more frequent heatwaves, which stress the electricity system.

The claim is frequently made, perhaps in the hope that repeating it will make it true. However, it is only wishful thinking that it is “known.”

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
May 19, 2022 6:55 pm

I had to spend a couple of hours covering the vegetables that I’ve already planted, mostly tomatoes. The snow is not too worrisome, but some of the forecasts for low temperature are.

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
May 20, 2022 2:54 am

Thank you Clyde:
“After all, it is well known that climate change is driving average temperatures up and leading to more frequent heatwaves, which stress the electricity system.” – from the article.

My first reactions was: “False!” Natural, solar-driven Global Warming was perhaps apparently-true (irregularly) up to ~2016, but no longer. Most people think science is about consensus. Wrong! Science is about the Scientific Method. Consensus is about human stupidity and the delusions of easily-propagandized herds – the incessant prattling of imbeciles – “truth” via the constant repetition of lies.

I haven’t studied the details recently and it may have changed, but in the past Wind Power in Alberta was given “free first right” into the grid, and gas-fired power was expected to ramp-up-and-down” to accommodate. Non-dispatchable wind power was paid a large subsidized premium 24/7 and gas power had to compensate, at no extra compensation, ramping up-and-down in a “free” subsidization of wind power. Overall unit costs of grid electrical power increased significantly and grid reliability declined. Another political triumph for corrupted greens and idiot politicians over common sense.

This ridiculous “hidden subsidy” scheme for wind power was based on the mistaken notion that wind power had greater “environmental virtue” than gas power, because fossil fuels allegedly caused dangerous global warming. “False!” This is what happens when idiots with arts degrees are allowed to set energy policy.

Reply to  Allan MacRae
May 20, 2022 7:24 am

The problem with the idiots with art degrees is that they paint pretty pictures and stupid people love pretty pictures.

Reply to  Steve Clough
May 20, 2022 11:37 am

Not particularly wanting to rag on crystallographers, but they always seemed to get the big grants in science because they produced pretty protein pictures. So they got to employ all the underlings.

The power of the visual is undeniable.

May 19, 2022 6:35 pm

I have lived all of my 60 years in Temple, TX (Central Texas). Texas summer nights can stay in the 90s for hours after the sun goes down, adding more solar isn’t going to be much help.

Chris Hanley
May 19, 2022 6:43 pm

Unexpected drops-offs are routine to wind and solar, that is why they need gas back-up.
Wind and solar need gas, gas does not need wind and solar.

May 19, 2022 7:01 pm

Am I missing something? They said “six of the state’s natural gas power plants unexpectedly went offline”, but this article said “no drop in natural gas generation over that period”. I’m assuming this means that other natural gas power plants increased production to cover what those 6 offline plants would have generated. And so presumably what was produced was exactly the same as if those 6 plants had been online anyway?

Is this purely scaremongering based on the fact that had demand been higher there may have (eventually) been insufficient capacity when the online plants reached their limits? And were they anywhere near those limits anyway?

Kit P
Reply to  Sue
May 19, 2022 8:32 pm

You got it right.

For 30 years, I have been watching Texas and Califonia closely. Both states needed new generating capacity. My company at the time was a major player to build that capacity.

Under Governor Bush, fossil capacity got built by providing a compromise for a modest renewable portfolio standard. This established a baseline for modern wind farms.

In Califonia, permits for building new capacity were delayed causing the 2000/2001 power crisis.

Think of it this way. The purpose of wind farms in Texas is to suck money out of California in two ways. First it buys credit to meet California requirements. Second the gas that is not used to make power in Texas is sold to make electricity in California.

Before 30 years ago, I worked at a nuke plant in Califonia. There is the great state of Texas and Califonia that has become the ‘no’ state.

May 19, 2022 7:47 pm

When you’re looking for a scapegoat you will find it.

Reply to  markl
May 20, 2022 5:55 am

When you’re looking for a scapegoat, if you can’t find one then you will invent one.

The Great Walrus
May 19, 2022 7:58 pm

“because climate change” — again missing the “of”…

Nick Graves
Reply to  David Middleton
May 20, 2022 12:24 am

I think it’s spelled ‘becuz’ as well.

Bruce Cobb
Reply to  The Great Walrus
May 20, 2022 1:07 am

My grammar can beat yours anyday.

The Great Walrus
Reply to  Bruce Cobb
May 20, 2022 11:35 am

Doubt it… “anyday” is properly written as “any day”.

Richard Page
Reply to  Bruce Cobb
May 20, 2022 3:55 pm

“Watch them words!”
“Watch them grammar!”

Joao Martins
Reply to  The Great Walrus
May 20, 2022 12:25 pm

No, nothing is missing.

Between “because” and “climate”, if you look carefully, you will see that the speaker made a wink of his left eye, raised a bit his eyebrows, and made a tiny nod with his head (and perhaps ended with a subtle sardonic quasi-smile).

Geoff Sherrington
May 20, 2022 1:02 am

David M asks the question: “Why is it that nearly every article about natural gas failing winds up revealing a wind failure?”
The answer is “A lack of personal accountability and lack of punishment for those who lie and who deliberately plan supply systems that they know will fail at times and that will cause deaths.”
Deaths from lack of electricity should be treated as homicides and those responsible should go through the usual processes of police investigation/charge/court hearing/verdict/sentence.
Those who kill others because of their ideology should be open to the heavy charge of premeditated murder.
Let’s start doing this. Let’s see how the number of fibs would tumble. Geoff S

Tom Abbott
May 20, 2022 2:51 am

From the article: “After all, it is well known that climate change is driving average temperatures up and leading to more frequent heatwaves, which stress the electricity system.”

This is a figment of the author’s imagination. There is no evidence that “CO2-induced climate change” is driving average temperatures up, and there is no evidence for more frequent heatwaves.

This author doesn’t know the subject matter, or is deliberately distorting the facts.

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  Tom Abbott
May 20, 2022 9:18 am

To top it off, people don’t die from “average” temperatures, they die from extreme temperatures. And whatever global warming that has taken place is mostly at night and in the winter. High summer temperatures, scare-mongering by the yellow stream media no withstanding, haven’t gone up as much

John Garrett
May 20, 2022 2:59 am

People are going to die because of the evidence-light “Catastrophic/dangerous, CO2-driven anthropogenic global warming/climate change” CONJECTURE.

It is pseudoscience. There is no “existential” climate emergency. There is no “climate crisis.” It’s bullshit.

The grid would be fine if it was powered by affordable, dependable, reliable nuclear, natural gas and coal fired electricity generating facilities instead of expensive, unreliable sources like wind and solar.

Goddamn politics and the climate nutjobs (this means you NPR, this mean you WaPo, this means you New York Times, this means you Mark Hertsgaard, this means you Bill McKibben, this means you Rockefeller, MacArthur, Hewlett, etc) are going to kill people with their climate propaganda (see Europe).

another ian
May 20, 2022 3:45 am

Around this area

“Y2Kyoto: State Of Anorexia Envirosa”

“California to spend $5.2 billion on “electricity reserve” to – -”


“That is enough to buy every person in California 509 AA batteries on Amazon”

I’d say applicable to Oz too

Reply to  another ian
May 20, 2022 6:06 am

You just need to pass motions-
EU wants rooftop PV mandate for public, commercial buildings by 2027, residential by 2029 – pv magazine International (

“I know this is ambitious, but it is realistic, we can do it,”

Don’t know about you Ursula but I’m a bit past climbing up on rooves although I used to ride a sling on a crane hook and dance on structural steel as a whippersnapper.

Michael in Dublin
May 20, 2022 3:45 am

Well at least climate activists have not yet begun to follow in the footsteps of what is happening in South Africa
Further incidents of sabotage at Eskom power stations thwart efforts to halt load shedding

William C Lovelace
May 20, 2022 4:14 am

There is a technology, Turbine Inlet Air Cooling of gas turbines that has wide industry acceptance. This could increase GT output 12% as a minimum. That is over 5000MW’s of summer peak capacity without adding a single additional plant to the grid.

May 20, 2022 6:08 am

Thanks to David Middleton for another helpful article. David asks:

“Why is it that nearly every article about natural gas failing winds up revealing a wind failure?”

Answer: Because radical greens and leftists lie about everything – that is their core competence.

On Failed Global Warming Predictions:
By the end of 2020, the climate doomsters (aka the IPCC and the radical greens) were proved wrong in their scary climate predictions 48 consecutive times. At 50:50 odds for each failed prediction, that is like flipping a coin 48 times and losing every time! The probability of that being mere random ignorance is 1 in 281 trillion! But no sensible person makes a 50:50 prediction – at 60:40 the odds against being this wrong are 1 in 13 quintillion; at 70:30 the odds are 1 in 13 septillion.
Let’s just state the obvious: Global Warming (aka “Climate Change”) alarmists are just blatant climate fraudsters.
I published this new “Law” in early 2020. Update: Please delete the word “Virtually”.
The above statement was originally written as satire – it is also the truth!

Lenin wrote:
– NNB #1 to 7 – the strategy to subvert our free society
– NNB #2 – why alarmists don’t debate Climate or Covid science – they just shout-down realists.
– NNB #5 – crush the middle class with taxation and inflation – what is happening now, via government over-spending, inflation and rising interest rates – it’s their Plan.
1 “People always have been and they always will be stupid victims of deceit and self-deception in politics.”
2 “It is, of course, much easier to shout, abuse, and howl than to attempt to relate, to explain.”
3 “Democracy is indispensable to socialism.”
4 “The goal of socialism is communism.”
5 “The way to crush the bourgeoisie is to grind them between the millstones of taxation and inflation.”
6 “Trust is good, but control is better.”
7 “As an ultimate objective, “peace” simply means communist world control.”



May 20, 2022 6:58 am

The Salt River Project in AZ was just denied permitting to expand a power plant, to add 16 more GE LM6000 fast-start gas turbines because of “historical discrimination” against the town near which the plant is located. Randolph, AZ is basically a wide spot in the road that at one time used to be (from the 1920’s) populated by a majority black demographic.

Take a look at the power plant, and then some of the houses and yards around it. I originally thought it was a joke, but nope, they’re willing to shut down the entire grid in and around the Phoenix metroplex for this.

Paul C
May 20, 2022 11:16 am

I was suspicious about the “unexpected” gas power plant failures as it would seem likely that following the severity of the problems the previous February, maintenance schedules may have been changed. A brief search confirmed my suspicions –
So when you ask a plant not to stop generating the day before it is going into planned repair and maintenance, and it fails to keep generating when it should be in that repair and maintenance phase, you call the failure “unexpected”? I guess that is some new and obscure use of the word “unexpected” that I had heretofore been unaware of, and must thank ERCOT’s obfuscation for this new knowledge.

Paul C
Reply to  Paul C
May 20, 2022 11:42 am

It’s worse than we thought. Not only was at least one plant told to delay repairs and maintenance, but others were asked to restart early when they were already shut down for maintenance.
Hardly “unexpected” that plants within their scheduled maintenance cycle cannot perform reliably when asked to help out at short notice. This beggars the question of how many plants were in their scheduled maintenance cycle, and were all of the “failures” within that group?

May 20, 2022 12:02 pm

Would that the West had a leader like Putin that understands the state of the political class and how they know nothing about the energy sector or economics. I was shocked to here his speech to his oil executives and economic leaders. The West has made him out to be Satan incarnate and this is the real reason they hate him. Watch and listen and be amazed. If you sign up with these guys on Locals you get this content and much other for free. This guy reads Putins speech and it is 100 percent on target. Would that our leaders cared about economics and the truth about energy the way that this “Evil Russian Imperialist does”.

May 20, 2022 12:12 pm

Here’s the NY side of the issue…..

New York Is Facing a Pandemic-Fueled Home Energy Crisis, With No End in Sight – Inside Climate News

During the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic, Jen Chantrtanapichate, a climate justice organizer, fell behind on her utility bills after she lost her contract as a consultant.
“I was enrolled in autopay and paying all my bills on time before the pandemic,” Chantrtanapichate said, adding that her utility debt accumulated over the last two years. Despite being on staff for months now, she is still not on top of her bills, she said, and owes $1,400 to National Grid for her electric service and over $700 on gas bills from Con Edison. The two utilities hold a monopoly in Brooklyn, where she lives. 

JCDN Texas
May 22, 2022 2:26 pm

I was driving from Austin to Lubbock through West Texas precisely on 06 May 2022 and saw two very large banks of wind turbines West of Hwy 84 at a complete standstill. Not sure why, but they were not producting energy, that’s for sure. It may have been an absence of wind, but I am not sure. I have read these particular turbines in W. Texas require about 12mph sustained wind to generate usable power.

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