Why Cold Weather Increases the Risk of a Power Outage
The cold weather gripping much of the United States right now is wreaking havoc on power grids. While some blame solar and wind power systems for the outages, the reality is much more complicated. Since most of the country can look forward to another month or two of cold weather, there is every potential for another significant power outage. This means that homeowners and businesses shouldn’t let up their guard, even as we get closer to spring.
The Great Texas Outage of 2021
The power outage that spread across Texas was due to a combination of factors that came together and created a nightmare scenario for Texas homeowners and businesses. The first factor was the record low temperatures that rolled into the state. As the temperature dropped, Texans turned up the thermostat to shield them from the icy conditions outside.
Snow and ice also came into play. These downed power lines made it difficult for repair crews to restore power to homes and businesses. In some cases, the temperature dropped low enough to freeze power plant generators and take them offline—this reduced overall energy production throughout the state.
Additionally, the temperature drop significantly reduced the supply of natural gas. Natural gas-powered generators generate nearly 50% of the power produced in Texas, according to ERCOT 2019 data. The cold weather slowed the flow of natural gas through the pipes, which made it even more difficult for the power plants still in operation to generate the power their communities required.
In all, nearly 40% of all power generators in Texas went offline during the crisis. At its worst, the storm reduced power production by nearly 46,000 MW, of which roughly 28,000 MW was from thermal production sites, while just over 18,000 MW came from wind/solar sites, ERCOT reported.
ERCOT Wasn’t Prepared…and They’re Not Alone
The bottom line is that ERCOT wasn’t properly prepared for the cold weather that rolled across the state. Texas isn’t normally subjected to such cold temperatures, but that doesn’t excuse the failure. Indeed, ensuing investigations are likely to uncover numerous shortcomings in ERCOT’s emergency response plans for everything from cold weather to hurricanes.
The reality is that ERCOT isn’t alone in its lack of preparation for potential disaster scenarios. Most power companies in the United States have power outage contingency plans for known threats inherent within their geographical region, including hurricanes, tornadoes, cold weather, floods, and even terrorism. However, most do not have defined plans in place for rare “100-year” events. Rare doesn’t mean impossible, and we are living in an era where it is clear that rare events are becoming increasingly common.
Preparation Means Stability
At Gen-Tech Power Generation Specialists, we sell standby power generators that help maintain power to your home or business when the power grid fails, and a power outage occurs. When the improbable becomes tomorrow’s headline, calling Gen-Tech at (800) 625-8324 helps ensure that you have a reliable power generator ready to go should the power grid falter and fail.