With Winter approaching, will the Texas power grid be resilient?
HOUSTON - As hurricane season concludes, Texans are contending with a much different fear - that of another deadly and disastrous winter storm.
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Recent polling found four out of five residents of the Lone Star State do not believe the legislature did near enough to safeguard against another cold-weather catastrophe.
"We could have another blackout this winter, there's just no question about it," said energy author and analyst Robert Bryce
Bryce is doubtful grid operators can keep enough reserve power on hand to push through a crisis in a state that's leading the nation in the growth of electricity demand.
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Amid all the finger-pointing, Bryce blames a decade-long rush to "unreliable" wind and solar.
"What we have seen is a fragilization of the grid by the addition of too many renewables and no one is telling you about it," said Bryce who contends government subsidies have given the wind and solar producers are a competitive advantage over thermal generators.
"I think it's a legitimate fear because of the outages that were suffered in February," added Don Hooper, an energy industry veteran, and owner of a natural gas power plant.
That said, Hooper believes statewide trepidation over yet another deadly blackout is overblown. He says the combination of additional reserve megawatts, new low-temperature protocols, and expedited weatherization of infrastructure will provide more than enough cushion to fend off another grid collapse.
"I just don't foresee that happening. There's been a lot of preparation and the Governor is betting his election on it and he's in discussion with the generators and they are going to deliver for him because that's their business," said Hooper.
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Both Bryce and Hooper say there are no new fossil fuel electric generators currently under construction in Texas with the only "new" power being added to the state's grid coming from weather-sensitive wind and solar.