Texas Power Outages Looming Next Summer

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – The winter cold hasn’t even taken firm hold of North Texas yet, but the state is already warning about a big problem Texans potentially face next summer: rolling blackouts.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas said it could be a decade-long problem.

ERCOT took a close look at the next ten years of power generation and released a report showing reserves will begin falling below the minimum target next summer.

For Tolar resident Lisa Barnes, going without power means going without everything.

“If it goes out for a number of hours you’re fine but if it goes out for a number of days you’re not fine,” said Barnes, who lives on a ranch in Hood County. “The pump on the well doesn’t work, you have no water, toilets don’t work, you can’t water your horses.”

Unfortunately, rolling outages could be in her future.

Over the next decade,  the state grid operator expects an even tighter capacity due to increased demand and the retirement of a number of generating facilities.

The City of Fort Worth is ready to respond.

“We are very cognizant of the problems with the energy consumption here locally in our metroplex, and we’re taking a lot of steps to make our city more sustainable,” said city spokesman Jason Lamers.  “We’re doing a lot of stuff on the sustainability side, and hopefully that will help us be better prepared for ERCOT’s warnings.”

Fort Worth has already installed solar panels on a few of its municipal buildings and changed its thermostats from manual to automatic. Last summer, the thermostat at City Hall was turned up and Mayor Betsy Price encouraged employees to wear shorts. All of the green measures are to help reduce the burden on the state’s power grid.

Hospitals and other trauma facilities are exempt from temporary outages.  But Texas Health Resources, which operates several major hospitals across DFW, actually volunteers to cut its consumption during power emergencies by using backup generators when ERCOT asks.

“It helps us, and it helps the community, and thousands of homes avoid that rolling brownout because we’re able to run our generator,” said Engineer Director Bill Upton.

ERCOT is looking at alternatives to rolling brownouts including expanding the number of businesses that can participate in the voluntary response program.

  • http://fortworthinsight.com/news/texas-power-outages-looming-next-summer/ Texas Power Outages Looming Next Summer « Fort Worth News Feeds

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  • Steven Gauss

    Just remember this is the fault of both our electric providers and the EPA. Press your legislators to not grant any increases to the providers until this is solved. We were promised an electrical nirvana, and have recieved a nightmare instead with deregulation. Our legislators will not do anything until we start voting them back to the private sector

    • Jeremy Paulin

      Deregulation has nothing to do with the old facilities being forced out of service and people refusing to allow new ones to be built. This is no different than people not wanting Nat. Gas facilities in their areas or Coal being used for producing energy..

      At some point the citizens of this country are going to realize that things don’t happen over-night. And the corporations are going to realize it also.

      That being said, you are right about the EPA. They are more of a nuisance than a help when it comes to the environment. You are also right that we need to be pressing these companies to use the money to increase their production instead of allowing their “top execs” to pocket the profits.

  • Elmer

    Thank Obama’s EPA for shutting down coal plants while he encourages illegal immigration that slurps up our resources.

  • DawnOnU

    How many of you bought a car and did no maintenance on it to get it ready for winter like checking the antifreeze (power sources would need to wrap pipes).
    How many of you are driving the very first car you ever owned (power sources not building new sources)?
    How many of you drive gas hogs (power sources not cutting high business consumers like those pretty downtown building lights or Super Bowl power)?
    In business you have to keep maintenance up and also replace old equipment no matter what the cost if you want to stay in business. It is no different for those who produce power. I am sick of hearing it cost too much to build new plants while they are making a killing on profits with the old plants. I am sick of hearing it’s the EPA’s fault for not letting them pollute us to death (far worse than the second hand smoke you fear so much). The fault and problems lies solely with the power producing company’s which are not building new plants to keep up with demand solely, just like the fault of your not buying a new car when yours in on it’s last leg lies solely with you. Yet the picture is different from just you suffering from your decision than it is with a business that will make millions suffer from their lack of action in conducting good business. Yet you as a gas hog can also be an electical hog, thus consumers do need to start thinking of more than themselves and cut back consumption.
    A temp fix would be to use those smart meters to black out those who use the most power needlessly (lighted buildings downtown, large house with thermostat set on 80, etc.). Yet unless provoke your power providers will not invest capital to build new plants so yes no increases in cost should be passed on to consumers by them unless they are building new plants and in fact they need to cut the costs they are getting now since their goal is not to stay in business.

    • Jeremy Paulin

      @DawnonU – What you fail to understand is that many of these facilities have a life span. Once they reach the end of life, it is cost prohibitive to do the upkeep and many times just flat out unsafe. Not only that, most of the facilities that are slated to be closed are coal-burning plants that can not be upgraded without such significant expenditures that they would not see a return on their investment in 50 years, never mind 20.

      Many of the companies have tried to invest capital in new facilities. But they have been blocked either by the communities in which they’d like to locate or by the EPA. This came out after Katrina. There were many oil facilities that were damages and were not allowed to re-open due to EPA rules. And it cut nearly 30% of the production of gasoline that this country had. And it’s why we still see Gas over $3/gallon.

      • Danny

        Gas is 3 bucks a gallon because the market is manipulated it has nothing to do with gas production here.

  • http://frontburner.dmagazine.com/2011/12/02/leading-off-12211/ Leading Off (12/2/11) | FrontBurner

    […] Rolling, Rolling. ERCOT says that power generation is something something not enough so next summer we could have rolling black outs. The takeaway from this story? In Fort Worth, if you work for the city you get to wear shorts in […]

  • cindy

    This is all political BS designed to get more money. Remember when they said we were having trouble during the Super Bowl? When some politician called them and told them they were messing the Super Bowl up, they stopped. No more blackouts, although supposedly we had no more power. They were able to stop the blackouts becuse they were manipulating them to begin with. They pay a fortune to our politicians (that’s where the real money is at) in exchange for political favors.

  • Danny

    The thing is if the state or the power companies or the government or someone with a vested interest in all this would just help homeowners put at least some solar panels on their homes it would reduce the draw on the system and if power did go out at least people could have light and heat.

    But in our society it is first about money and then maybe about people and what is best and right. Building more power stations is environmentally dangerous as well as safety concerns.

    We never seem to think about these things when we are building new buildings or new homes. Then the grid can put the squeeze on us and make us uncomfortable so they can get regulations lifted and build whatever they want.

    It is upon us to prepare with solar or generator or hydrogen boxes but the problem is most people can’t afford those things right now or at least the most vulnerable for sure.

    Assisting with that is to everyone’s benefit it seems to me.

  • DawnOnU

    @Jeremy-I understand very well about life spans of cars or plants. I also understand not seeing a return on an investment anytime in the near future, just like I probably wouldn’t live long enough to pay off buying another car at today’s prices and unlike in the past they don’t last that many years anymore mainly because they quit making parts for them so they can fill up their pockets and dumps. Had they been good business people some those profits they have been making since the first day a plant opened would have been put back for building new plants thus they would be getting a return on their investments a lot sooner. Before deregulation the state required them to build new plants to keep up with demand so that was done by them. Deregulation only shows how regulations are needed in order to protect the public from greedy people (i.e. reason monopoly laws where made).
    I’m only about 20 miles from a nuclear plant and that is too close for me since none of my electricity comes from it. If it was a benefit to me (cheaper electricity) to live in what could be a fallout zone it would be more fair. I’m all for plants being built only in the area’s that benefit from it’s production, thus care to have a coal fired or nuke plant in your backyard?
    Danny called you on the gas right, but look out you may later find OBL was one of those hidden jacking up the price.
    Solar panels will have to come way down in price to be a benefit plus they are not 100% enviromentally friendly due to some of the items used in making them. One thing I think they should be forced to do with them is only use them on existing buildings and not try to make farms out of them thus harming wildlife more and wasting space.

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