Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

Deregulation Has Caused Texas’ Energy Problems

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Texas Electrical Energy Deregulation map
The Texas and Dallas deregulated energy service areas are divided into six Transmission and Delivery Utility (TDU) Companies. Those TDUs are:
• Texas New Mexico Power Company (TNMP)
• Sharyland Utilites
• AEP North (American Electric Power)
• AEP Central
• Oncor (most of DFW, Dallas-Fort Worth included)
• CenterPoint (Houston and surrounding areas)

While it’s cold – and yes, it’s a Polar Vortex (see the motion gif showing 2 months of daily changes at the bottom of this page) – it’s NOT like the Polar Vortex of February 2019.

But if you’ve been wondering WHY Texas is having problems delivering electricity right now with a relatively minor cold snap moving through much of the United States, and other states aren’t, wonder no more.

Texas has a DEREGULATED energy/electrical power grid.

Texas, which is the nation’s the largest energy producer and consumer, is the only state in the nation to have and use its own power grid.

There are three electrical power grids in the Lower 48 states:
1.) The Eastern Interconnection;
2.) The Western Interconnection, and;
3.) The Texas Interconnection.

For more information, see:
U.S. electric system is made up of interconnections and balancing authorities
https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=27152
;
See also:
Learn More About Interconnections
https://www.energy.gov/oe/services/electricity-policy-coordination-and-implementation/transmission-planning/recovery-act-0
.

Texas’ electrical power grid is called ERCOT, which is operated by an agency of the same name — the Electric Reliability Council Of Texas.  However, ERCOT does not actually cover all of Texas. El Paso is on a separate grid, as is the upper Panhandle, and a significant portion of East Texas.

By having their own power grid, in practice, that means ERCOT is free from having to comply with Federal regulations, including those that could have required it to be better prepared for emergency cold-weather conditions with improved capabilities.

The Energy Information Administration, a Federal agency, shows information about Texas’ sources of electrical energy on their website: https://www.eia.gov/state/?sid=TX#tabs-4

Each state’s energy production profile can be viewed simply by replacing the two-letter abbreviation for the state of interest – i.e., AL-Alabama, MN-Minnesota, FL-Florida, IA-Iowa, HI-Hawaii, ME-Maine, MT-Montana, etc.

“Texas’ deregulatory philosophy has caused them to put much less stringent rules on generators and system operators to be prepared for cold weather than other systems, where extreme cold is more common.”

–– Bill Magness, CEO of the Electric Reliability Council Of Texas (ERCOT), which oversees about 90% of Texas’ energy production, and has ordered rolling outages across the state

“They believed that this kind of ‘perfect storm’ was so unlikely that they didn’t need to require the system to prepare for it.”

–– Peter Fox-Penner, Founder, Boston University’s Institute for Sustainable Energy

ERCOT logo

If you’ve ever watched ANY sport – soccer, hockey, football, baseball, basketball, automobile racing, or any other sport of any kind whatsoever – you know that there are rules and regulations to ALL of them. Without them, there would be no game, no competition, no objectives. Without rules and regulations, it would literally be a pointless free-for-all, or violent melee.

As well, your car’s engine is a fine-tuned piece of machinery precisely because of regulation. Start twiddling with it, making changes in willy-nilly fashion – such as to timing – and it won’t be long before your engine will begin to deteriorate, and completely fail.

Proper regulation makes things better and stronger, improves quality, and increases efficiency and effectiveness.

This animation uses data from the European Space Agency’s Aeolus wind satellite, which shows how the polar vortex in the lower stratosphere changed over two months. University of Bath/C. Wright

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