There are currently about 4 million people without electricity in the US state of Texas. Due to snowfall and falling temperatures, electricity is not being produced in the electricity grid. It is difficult to generate electricity when it is cold. The people of Texas and neighboring states are aware of this fact, but it is not impossible to do so because electricity is generated in such situations in places like Alaska, Canada, Maine, Norway and Siberia. Then how did this problem arise in front of Texas?
The problem encountered in Texas is not an engineering problem, nor is it due to the freezing of windmills, as many Republican lawmakers are saying. Actually, this problem has arisen due to the financial structure of the energy sector, which does not give any incentive to the owners of power plants, so that they can be prepared for such a situation. Critics say that in the name of free market and regulation, such a power grid has been erected in Texas, which insists on providing electricity at cheaper prices rather than reliable service.
Port designer Matt Breidert of analytics firm EcoFin / Tortoise said the market design here is based on ‘short-run prices’. Despite this, on Monday and Tuesday, one megawatt-hour electricity wholesale price in Houston has increased to $ 9,000 at the rate of $ 22.
The problem that has arisen due to the cold in Oklahoma and parts of Louisiana, including Texas, has brought attention to the ignored state of power infrastructure in the United States. At present, the question in front of Texas power sector stakeholders is whether they are willing to pay for the steps that can be taken due to the cold? Even if they have to face such a situation once in decades.
What happened after all?
10 percent of the electricity produced in Texas is made from wind turbines. Power has been broken off the grid due to the shutdown of many thermal power plants working on natural gas. Power supply fell here due to frozen wind turbines in the snowfall. The demand for electricity increased due to the cold, but the wells of Texas filled with natural gas also did not help because the power generating operators could not convert this gas into electricity. The temperature was in single digit here. Pipelines froze due to gas moisture. The pumps slowed down. The diesel engines that started the pumps stopped running. One power plant closed after another. Two of the two nuclear plants in the state stalled with frozen equipment.
Tom Seng, director of the University of Tulsa’s School of Energy Economics, said, “The struggle for gas has been seen throughout the southwestern states as most sources have gone offline. Surplus gas is stored inside the ground and it becomes very difficult to bring it up at such low temperature.
Texas is such a different power grid system, which is cut off from the rest of the country. In such a situation, there is no way to get electricity demand from other states here. And anyway, the cold is so much that even other states do not have the option to provide additional power.