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Texas’ Power Grid “Could Be At Risk” Ahead Of Cold Blast

Texas’ Power Grid “Could Be At Risk” Ahead Of Cold Blast

The primary grid operator for Texas, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), is preparing for another round of bitterly cold weather that may disrupt natural gas power plants.

National Weather Service (NWS) anticipates temperatures across parts of the Lone Star State to plunge Thursday and affect natgas flows to electricity generators.

The second round of cold air comes as the first blast of arctic air paralyzed several gas wells, processing plants, and other equipment to move natgas to electricity generators. As a result, about 10% of natgas production went offline for 48 hours. It was the most significant disruption to the grid since the state’s infamous February 2021 near power grid collapse.

On Thursday, temperatures in Midland, Texas, the Permian Basin oil and gas field location, will be around 18 degrees Fahrenheit, which is 15 degrees below average for this time of year.

“Gas wells are particularly susceptible to so-called freeze-offs because of the high volumes of subterranean water that typically flow out of the ground alongside the fuel. Wind installations also can be knocked offline by intense cold while overcast weather and snow disrupt solar-power output,” Bloomberg said.

“It is important to remember, however, as we have consistently stated, that some variation in production occurs with sudden temperature changes -– these are field operations, not controlled factory settings,” Todd Staples, president of the Texas Oil and Gas Association, said in a statement. 

Ahead of Thursday, ERCOT filed a report with state regulators that outlined most of its power-generating units comply with new winterization rules following last year’s power grid problems. The grid operator found ten generators out of the 302 inspected didn’t meet the new requirements to survive a winter storm. The generators susceptible to volatile weather represent a total capacity of 532 megawatts or about .4% of ERCOT’s generation.

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