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Mon Feb 22, 2021, 09:11 PM

The Texas power system failed in extreme weather. The same could happen in N.C.

Texas is in the dark. Could that happen here?

Many Texans have been without electricity for days as the power system operator struggles to bring its customers back online. North Carolinians may be asking themselves, “Could that happen here?”

To understand our risk, we need to be clear about the causes of the Texas disaster. Power systems are designed to meet the hours of highest demand, which has typically been hot summer days when people are running air conditioners. But in some regions, winter heating is driving those peaks in electricity demand.

In Texas, the bitter cold spell sent electricity demand soaring far beyond previous records. In addition, the grid was not designed to handle these extremes. The natural gas system was the biggest contributor to this failure with frozen delivery infrastructure reducing fuel supply. This supply reduction was exacerbated by the need to prioritize natural gas for home heating over electricity supply at a time of record demand. So when their governor sought to blame renewable energy for this catastrophe, his comments were disingenuous at best. Solar is a bit player in Texas and the unavailability of any wind turbines is minor compared to these thermal plant outages.

So can this happen in North Carolina? Certainly, but we do have a few factors working in our favor. While over half of the electricity in Texas comes from natural gas, our region has a more diverse mix of electricity sources. We also have a greater reserve margin than Texas – meaning that we have more “extra” power plant capacity to serve as a buffer. Perhaps most importantly, while Texas is largely an isolated grid, we are part of a large interconnected network spanning the Dakotas to Maine to Florida. This means that we can rely on our neighbors for help in meeting peak demand.

Read more: https://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/article249374940.html
(Raleigh News & Observer)

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Reply The Texas power system failed in extreme weather. The same could happen in N.C. (Original post)
TexasTowelie Feb 22 OP
NewHendoLib Feb 22 #1
TwilightZone Feb 22 #3
TwilightZone Feb 22 #2
TexasTowelie Feb 22 #4
TwilightZone Feb 22 #5
OldBaldy1701E Feb 23 #6
mwooldri Feb 23 #7

Response to TexasTowelie (Original post)

Mon Feb 22, 2021, 09:17 PM

1. We had an ice storm about 20 years ago in Raleigh and we were without power for a week

Very widespread power loss, very low temps, horrendous and miserable.

temp inside the house was well below freezing. Different reasons - many electric lines were above ground and were taken down by an incredible amount of tree limbs falling on them.

Once the streets thawed we got lucky and ended up in a hotel for a night.
This is the DU member formerly known as NRaleighLiberal.

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Response to NewHendoLib (Reply #1)

Mon Feb 22, 2021, 09:25 PM

3. Had a similar ice storm when I lived in Omaha in the 90s.

Very similar. The storm knocked out power in much of the city. Tons of trees were destroyed, necessitating cleanup before crews could even get to many neighborhoods and knocking out thousands of miles of power lines. Many were without power for a week.

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Response to TexasTowelie (Original post)

Mon Feb 22, 2021, 09:21 PM

2. It could happen in a lot of places.

I find the "only in Texas" arguments rather short-sighted.

This was a statewide event, affecting all 254 counties, plus issues up and down the center of the country due to snow and bitter cold. Demand in TX spiked quickly and was *double* the available supply. Several other states had their own issues including rolling blackouts and wouldn't have been able to provide backup for days.

I'd be curious how many state/local systems have a buffer that large, even with their neighbors pitching in.

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Response to TwilightZone (Reply #2)

Mon Feb 22, 2021, 09:33 PM

4. Part of the problem with the issue of reserve capacity

is that a few coal-powered plants were shut down in the past decade. While that is good for the environment, removing that excess capacity also has adverse effects.

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Response to TexasTowelie (Reply #4)

Mon Feb 22, 2021, 09:35 PM

5. Good point.

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Response to TexasTowelie (Original post)

Tue Feb 23, 2021, 08:14 AM

6. I was born and raised in northeastern North Carolina

We had a few ice storms growing up that caused major outages. I do not recall anyone having their house go below freezing temps because none of the houses there were solely reliant on one central system. And it is because of this fact that I always try to have alternatives for heating around my house. This fact is yet another example of how we have become far too lazy and dependent on people and things that are not going to have the best interest of the general welfare on their minds when something like this happens. (As well as falling for their hype that they do). I love modern technology and advanced building techniques and all that as much as anyone, but when society thinks it is 'ready' for whatever nature can do, when it thinks it is beyond the need for basic common sense preparation, then you get what happened in Texas. (Because no one lives in a 'weather' utopia). Sure, those power plant vultures should be strung up on the nearest oil rig for letting their infrastructures degrade while they swam in all their ill gotten gains, and for charging idiotic prices when they finally realized they were in trouble, but any time a person thinks they are beyond needing to be prepared... no matter where you are... spells disaster. Take it from someone who has lived through multiple hurricanes. (Hell, now I am living in Minnesota [save me please] and in a house that has nothing other than the central unit. I am terrified about this, mainly because I am a broke old fart now and cannot just go out and solve the problem. The lunacy in building anything in this part of the country, with only one heat source and vaulted ceilings, is beyond me. Probably why it was available for the price...)

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Response to TexasTowelie (Original post)

Tue Feb 23, 2021, 12:40 PM

7. Another thing in NC's favour: regulation.

For many, you can have any electric company you want as long as it's Duke Energy. And the rate is whatever Duke charges and it won't go up and down with the market.

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