The state needs to start stringing power lines and fast because their inadequacy is one of the biggest challenges to handling another Winter Storm Uri.
Buoyed by the $33-billion surplus that the energy industry has handed it, the Texas House and Senate find themselves confronted with 10 percent of the state’s population not being reached by the power grid and serious doubts about some of the areas that it does.
State Rep. Brooks Landgraf, R-Odessa, and Waco economist Ray Perryman say the situation is worrisome.
“Texas does not have enough high-voltage transmission lines to handle the grid,” said Landgraf, chairman of the House Environmental Regulation Committee in Austin. “The state’s power grid is growing rapidly, but the transmission lines are not keeping pace.
“This is causing congestion, which can lead to outages. In addition, the grid is not well-prepared for extreme weather events like the winter storm that caused widespread outages in February 2021.”
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which manages the grid, says Texas has about 46,500 miles of high-voltage lines that supply power to the 26 million customers who represent 90 percent of the state’s electric load.
Landgraf said April 18 that the Legislature “needs to invest in more transmission lines to improve the reliability of the grid, make it more resilient to extreme weather events and ensure that Texans have reliable access to electricity.
“We need to increase the capacity of existing lines, build new lines and make the grid more resilient to extreme weather events,” he said.
San Angelo Republican Rep. Drew Darby’s House Bill 1254 would facilitate a timely and targeted expansion of the grid, resolve existing interzonal and intrazonal transmission constraints and ensure the future reliability of ERCOT by prioritizing the addition of load-serving capability in high growth areas and require new lines operating at 345 kilovolts to be constructed as double circuit capable lines, among numerous other provisions.
ERCOT reaches 213 of the state’s 254 counties with the other 41 being served by various companies in far West Texas, far East Texas, the western South Plains and the upper Panhandle. Those 41 are Bailey, Bowie, Camp, Cass, Cochran, Dallam, El Paso, Gaines, Gregg, Hansford, Hardin, Harrison, Hartley, Hemphill, Hockley, Hudspeth, Hutchinson, Jasper, Jefferson, Lamb, Liberty, Lipscomb, Lubbock, Marion, Moore, Morris, Newton, Ochiltree, Orange, Panola, Polk, Sabine, San Augustine, San Jacinto, Shelby, Sherman, Terry, Trinity, Tyler, Upshur and Yoakum.
Winter Storm Uri knocked off the electricity in 4 1/2 million Texas homes and businesses while costing $295 billion and killing 200 people.
Perryman said Tuesday, April 18, that capacity issues “are clearly emerging and both ERCOT and the Public Utilities Commission of Texas are monitoring the situation,” particularly in West Texas, which has had repeated transmission problems.
Noting that the statewide system has more than 86,000 megawatts of available generation capacity, Perryman said the ERCOT-affiliated transmission and distribution utility companies or TDUs maintain the lines.
“TDUs are investor-owned and are responsible for maintaining the infrastructure that delivers power to the end-use consumer including high-voltage transmission lines, substations, local distribution lines and consumer meters,” he said. “Additional transmission capacity may be needed due to growth in demand such as with population expansion or industrial development.
“For example, certain industries lead to a need for additional power whether crypto-mining, oilfield activity, data centers or some types of manufacturing that require extensive power. Changes in generation can also lead to incremental needs such as large wind and solar developments.”
Perryman said ERCOT is aware of issues emerging in West Texas from both the demand and supply sides. “A recent report says oil and gas extraction and processing in West Texas have led to record growth in electricity demand in this area,” he said.
“In addition to demand for electricity, West Texas continues to see the growth of renewable generation resources. These factors have all contributed to transmission congestion in the West Texas region.”
The economist said five of the 10 most frequent transmission constraints in 2021 were in the West Texas load zone. “The PUCT has been engaged with both utilities and consumers to ensure that electric service quality remains reliable and to examine options for improved load forecasting and transmission planning,” he said.
“Utilities that serve the West Texas region continue to build new infrastructure to serve the demand.”
Perryman said the market should be able to meet the need for additional transmission capacity “assuming that the rates of return, which are still regulated for that aspect of the power system, are sufficient to induce the required capital investment.
“The situation in West Texas has been changing rapidly and the ongoing growth in renewables will further enhance the need and hence the likelihood of a TDU (Transmission and Delivery Utility) stepping in to build the necessary lines,” he said. “Prior to the creation of the competitive market, regulated utilities handled generation, transmission and distribution.
“For most of the ERCOT area, competition was implemented for generation and retail distribution a number of years ago, but transmission remained regulated because it is a natural monopoly in that it doesn’t make sense to have multiple power lines running down or under the same street,” Perryman said.
“I have worked on the economics of such projects both before and since much of the power system was converted to a market including the major investment in the Competitive Renewable Energy Zone initiative, which essentially allowed the movement of power from the places where the wind blows and the sun shines to the places where the people live.
“There are many challenges facing grid operators, some of which were dramatically exposed during Winter Storm Uri. With regard to transmission lines, however, the major issue is simply assuring that the TDUs can receive adequate returns to incentivize the needed investment.”
$33billion dollars of the peoples money in the state of Texas, being held captive by a bunch of fools who remain in office only because of gerrymandering. This is crazy. Just as crazy as the banning of books. After World II and all the lives loss to prevent this type of thing from ever happening again, we, as Americans, find ourselves facing the same old enemy again rapped in MAGA Q-Anone craziness.
Funny thing because many of us think all of the woes we see happening in America now is because of the weak, pathetic leaders who were ushered into office by the WOKE-LEFT! You know, those who are trying to turn out little school kids into being individuals who change their sex and gender behind their parent's back! Those who have shutdown Fossil Fuel production from the first day Joe Cool was in office, and have facilitated a war in the Ukraine, and the advancement of Red China's world status as the number one Super-power on the Globe! You know,...the group that has inflation through the roof, and have divided this nation like at no other time since the Civil War!!!!!
Spurting Disinformation is a common thing if you get your one sided news from CNN & the FAKE MEDIA who packs water for the WOKE. I wonder is Joe Cool going to come out like a man and debate & answer questions during the next election, or will he hide-out in a hole somewhere like last time? Lolo.
Charles, this is a Texas problem, because of ERCOT.
This is too complicated for our current bunch of politicians to deal with. They will however act quickly to remove books from library shelves. Removing books is easy stuff for them, understanding the state wide electrical grid is just too much too ask of them.
The State of Texas does not own the power lines locally nor the long distance power lines. They are being rebuilt and being built by companies that contribute to the grid. . Do a web search "ONCOR CURRENT TRANSMISSION LINE PROJECTS". I count a dozen projects going on.
From their website:
"A dedicated group—including Oncor, ERCOT, the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT), and state utilities—keep a pulse on our state's growing energy needs. It is a joint monitoring effort that constantly examines demand and supply, then follows a step-by-step expansion process that involves conducting engineering, routing and environmental assessments, evaluating connection requirements, securing certifications, determining right-of-way, and working cooperatively with landowners. "
Along FM 2004 (between Hwy 6 and FM 1764) I see work being done on those high towers to maintain greater crew access to lines.
So basically the Republicans in the Texas legislature want to ensure the “rates of return” are sufficient for the power transmission companies to build transmission lines to meet the growing demand in West Texas. This means they want to raise the charge we pay the transmission provider on our electric bill; a charge amount that is regulated by the state. They want to do this because oil and gas companies, who are making record profits in the last few years, need the infrastructure so they can continue their huge expansion of their extraction and processing in West Texas. Meanwhile we the people of Texas here on the Gulf Coast still don’t have the improvements promised after the disastrous winter storm Uri and no laws with any teeth to force the power companies to upgrade their equipment or face fines and legal consequences. If it’s for oil and gas, we can and must get it done, but if it’s just the people of the state, well it can wait. It’s time to elect leaders that care more about us than oil and gas companies!
"still don’t have the improvements promised after the disastrous winter storm Uri "
"CenterPoint responds to power outages with equipment repairs" Mar 15, 2023
"CenterPoint upgrading Galveston equipment to improve reliability" Jan 14, 2022
"CenterPoint to move isle center to Santa Fe" Oct 7, 2022
Anyone with eyes can see the the Big Metal Stuff being erected by CenterPoint across the middle of Santa Fe, but thanks for pointing out the obvious again Carlos.
Obvious to you, obvious to me, obvious to those who read the articles but there are still the uninformed.
The issue in this editorial is not so much problems around here but in West Texas where supply and demand are far apart. The grid is less well developed and less resilient out there.
This editorial is from the Odessa paper after all.
West Texas... Isn't that where the wind mills are? Just asking.
Yes, Carlos, that's where the windmills (and solar panels) are. Renewables are generating more energy than we have power lines to carry. (As I write this, wind and solar are producing 42.5% of your electricity, according to ERCOT's real-time metrics.)
Maybe an analogy will help. When fracking in the Permian Basin began liberating huge amounts of new oil and gas, Texas had to build new pipelines to accommodate it. It's the same thing.
So the wind generator counties have plenty, they just want to ship it to where the money is. CHA CHING!
Yes, Carlos. A basic tenet of capitalism is that the goods and services you produce have to be available to the people that want to buy them.
You might want to read, "Business Basics For Kids: Learn with a Lemonade Stand", available at Amazon.
But maybe not at a school library.
Let the private companies build the transmission towers and don't expect the state to pay for it since they'll be making the $$$$$.
Hey, ask Red China and XI JINPING what they want done! He is the one calling the shots after all!. I can't see why the WOKE-LEFT is "sweating" this! I guarantee anybody,...anywhere that Red China is not having these made-up energy problems we are having now under the WOKE-LEFT leadership!
I'm waiting to see how the WOKE will use energy panels to replace Fossil Fuel for our military tanks and other weapons. You gotta love how Red China ...differently than Russia, has used selfishness, and greed in America to move past us, and to become idolized by the world! ...SMDH).
It’s about matching supply and demand. There is lots of generation in West Texas and lots of demand elsewhere. More transmission lines are needed to get from A to B. While I agree for the need of more transmission lines, I disagree with this editorial on a couple of points.
First, the non-ERCOT counties in Texas don’t need to join. They are parts of multi-state interconnects that are already functioning. There is no need to make ERCOT even more complex unless the goal is to tie into the national grids and submit to the authority of FERC. (Which politically ain’t gonna happen.)
Second, I don’t think the State should be funding the needed transmission lines. There may be a role in financing, permitting, etc, but not as an owner.
When the offshore wind farms come online, the Gulf Coast will become a larger player in electricity production. Right now we have a large producer on the coast.
Los Vientos Wind Farm is a 912-megawatt (MW) wind farm in Starr and Willacy counties in South Texas. It is the second largest wind farm in the United States behind the Alta Wind Energy Center (1,550- MW) in California.
When the offshore wind farms come online they'll have to be shut down every time there is a storm that exceeds their specifications. Do any storms ever come into the Gulf Coast area of Texas?
The wind farms they are building in the gulf, are not the first in the world. Engineers have worked out, how to protect them from high wind. It's no different from what we did when a hurricane came ashore in Texas City or in the area. When had things we did to reduce the damage to the refinery.
"They are designed to withstand a category 5 storm. Once the wind speed reaches (somewhere around) 25 meters per second (60 mph), the rotor is stopped, and the turbine is put in protection mode until the storm passes." It does not take very long for a hurricane to reduce to 60 mph and start producing power again.
"Wind farms in the Gulf of Mexico could generate as much as 508 gigawatts of electricity a year, which is twice what U.S. Gulf states consume. "
"(60 mph), the rotor is stopped," So that means we will have to rely on more traditional electrical sources during a hurricane. Can't use wind... Jim says they're SHUT DOWN.
The difference between a wind farm and a refinery as far as being offline because of a hurricane. Once it is determined that a refinery is going to experience high wind from a hurricane, shutdown will start. A wind farm will not shut down until the wind reaches 60 mph.
Once the wind has reduced to below 60 mph wind farm can restart. In a refinery the amount of time before they are back to full capacity can be days, weeks or months. Bringing a plant back online after a hurricane is a hazardous, multi-day process that can create new disasters. Not so, with a windfarm.
Is that how long it takes BP/AMOCO/ MARATHON to get back on line..or does that apply to All plants? I spent a few hours at a plant in TC myself, not many but a few ( 33.5 YEARS ). Strike that,... I'll get with Mr. George Croix when he quit hunting and ask him. Thanks anyway.
"Wind turbines are vulnerable to hurricanes because the maximum wind speeds in those storms can exceed the design limits of wind turbines. Failure modes can include loss of blades and buckling of the supporting tower. In 2003, a wind farm of seven turbines in Okinawa, Japan was destroyed by typhoon Maemi and several turbines in China were damaged by typhoon Dujuan." PNAS
"In the most vulnerable areas now being actively considered by developers, nearly half the turbines in a farm are likely to be destroyed in a 20-y period. " PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America)
Note to Jim: At 60 mph, it is not a hurricane. It is a tropical storm. Once winds reach 74mph you have a hurricane,
Charles, I worked with George at the Coker. He was a operations Forman and I was a Maintenace person, assigned to the Coker. I worked for him many times.
As far as how long it takes to get a unit back up, it depends on which unit. The Coker would take a few days unless it was an unexpected shut down. One time it took us over a month to unplug the piping because of an unplanned problem. Units like the Cat could take a week or more, It depends on, if they had problems coming back up.
If the refinery was completely down, then all that is wrong must be fixed. This could take a long time, as it did one time, because we had to fix things that needed fixing for years. When we lost electrical power and steam power, we were down for a long time.
Things also changed when we were required to use LOTO, which increase the time in shutting down a unit and bringing it back up.
George could tell you all about hurricanes and refinery, as he was on the hurricane crew.
And yes, this applies to all crude plants. As far as chem plants, I do not know.
For most plants, refinery and chemical, starting up a single process unit can be done in a few days, depending on the state of the shutdown. But bringing an entire plant up from a cold start will take at least a week or likely more. There is a certain sequence in which things must happen.
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