Texas’ main electric grid operator has already begun to make changes in how it will handle situations like the Feb.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said it is beginning an investigation into the Feb. FERC said it will look into the causes of the disruptions and look for ways to prevent them from happening again, but did not characterize the probe as an enforcement investigation. Two Texas Senate committees that are looking into the power emergency have scheduled a joint hearing Tuesday. At the hearings ERCOT should explain why after narrowly averting similar rolling blackouts in February 2008 changes weren’t made to prevent the problem from happening again. Many of the plant shutdowns were due to the failure of equipment that monitors different aspects of the power plants, such as temperatures, pressures and water levels, as well as the failure of some control systems. Sensing water lines will freeze, moisture in the air lines will freeze, you loose control and often have to trip the unit to protect the turbine-generator.
If you loose your auxiliary emergency (incoming) power during these freezeups the plant lines will begin to freeze and break.
Backin the 1960s there was a massive cold spell in the midwest that caused the failure of many coal-fired and gas fired power plants. More than 1,000 MidAmerican Energy customers and several thousand Ameren Illinois customers were without power Thursday evening, July 16, following a rash of severe weather.
In the Monmouth area┬áthere were more than 2,300 Ameren Illinois customers were without power. There were 278 customers without power in Hillsdale, 453 in the Rock Island area, and 164 in the Port Byron area. Clarksville, TN – There is a power outage in Clarksville for customers connected to the Primary Substation and the Dunbar Cave Substation. None of those events produced a power outage produce nearly as total a zone of blackness as depicted in the image shown above.
The original picture is a composite image of nighttime North America which someone has manipulated with an editing program to darken the northeastern area. Pictures such as the one displayed above are not simple snapshots; they are composite images formed from multiple pictures taken by a variety of satellites at different times. Satellite images are usually date-stamped with times corresponding to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) rather than a particular local time zone. Our site covers many of the items currently being plopped into inboxes everywhere, so if you were writing to ask us about something you just received, our search engine can probably help you find the very article you want.

Choose a few key words from the item you're looking for and click here to go to the search engine. We do reserve the right to use non-confidential material sent to us via this form on our site, but only after it has been stripped of any information that might identify the sender or any other individuals not party to this communication. 2 power emergency that led to rolling blackouts through much of the state, according to the organization’s CEO. But FERC cited authority under the Natural Gas Act and the Natural Gas Policy Act, as well as its role overseeing the North American Electric Reliability Corp.
The Texas Public Utility Commission’s independent market monitor also is investigating. Note the crisis in 2008 was triggered by a weather front that shut down the states wind turbines during a cold snap that increased demand. And when those air dryers fail, due to wore out dessicants, and you get any moisture past them you are in deep trouble. There have been reports along Riverside Drive of vehicles not stopping at the non working lights. An e-mail alert system designed to warn of escalating problems didn’t reach all the parties that it should have in time, partly because the emergency came to a head overnight, said Electric Reliability Council of Texas CEO Trip Doggett in a presentation to the ERCOT board of directors today.
The warning system now includes more automation, with messages being sent directly from ERCOT’s control room instead of through third parties. An improved communication plan is also being developed that will use social media to spread information, set up a phone bank so more ERCOT staff can field media calls, include the potential for real-time radio and TV interviews during emergencies, and add real-time grid data in an easy-to-find location on ERCOT’s web site. The e-mails will also include phone calls to cell phones and home phone numbers that won’t stop until the receiver answers and acknowledges the message.
Marcie Zlotnik, an ERCOT board member who is also COO of Houston-based electric retailer StarTex Power, said she felt comfortable with how ERCOT’s staff handled the emergency and averted a statewide blackout that could have taken days to recover from. It’s interesting to note natural gas producer Chesapeake Energy will have a representative there, as well as natural gas supplier Atmos Energy, to address the contribution of a cold-induced slowdown in gas production and the role of state rules that require shifting gas supplies away from power plants to residential customers under certain emergency circumstances.
But Zlotnik said she’s comfortable only because of the level of information she has access to as a board member. Several other investigations are in the works, including one from the North American Electric Reliability Corporation and the Texas Public Utility Commission’s independent market monitor. Power plant operators who had units crash unexpectedly have been asked by ERCOT to waive the standard 60-day confidentiality rule on outage information. Those waivers were received Friday and are being processed by ERCOT legal staff today, a spokeswoman said.

2 emergency was sparked by the unprecedented failure of dozens of power plants as subfreezing weather hit most of the state, Doggett said. That rapid escalation made it hard for officials to warn the media or other public officials of the rolling blackouts in advance. ERCOT has asked the operators of the power plants that went down unexpectedly over the course of the power emergency to allow it to publicly release the names of the power plants. On Monday afternoon ERCOT was still sorting the responses from the operators, but Doggett shared a few more details. While 8,000 megawatts of power was the peak outage, over the course of the day 82 power plants with a combined generating capacity of 11,000 megawatts went offline.
About 40 percent of the downed plants were coal-fired power plants, 59 percent gas units and 1 percent wind power. There was no clear pattern in the age of the power plants being a factor, Doggett said, or in location as plants failed throughout the state.
A map showing the rough location of power plants that went down shows a cluster of plants around Houston, a line of them through Central Texas and another line across North Texas. While some natural gas fired power plants had problems with fuel supplies due to the cold, Doggett said the emergency wasn’t caused by gas curtailment issues.
He said wind power units and nuclear power plants produced at levels they were expected to.
A number of operators reported pneumatic lines with some water in them froze, disrupting operations. Another common problem was the failure of a device called a drum level transmitter, which reads the levels of steam and water in power plant boilers. The piping between drum and a switch the device controls typically is wrapped with heated tape and insulated, but the high winds that accompanied the cold may have been too much for even those precautions. A number of ERCOT board members seemed surprised to learn that information about how power plants prepare for cold weather is considered confidential data that is not readily shared.

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