Tomorrow, the Dallas City Council Will Explore How We Keep the Lights From Going Out

Categories: City Hall

electric-company.jpg
No, city council, this is not how you make electricity.
In light of a few things -- namely the one-year anniversary of the most widespread rolling blackout in Texas history; the razor-thin reserve margins that left the state teetering on the verge of more rolling blackouts during that hot-as-hell summer; and ERCOT's assertion that there aren't enough plants to power Texas from 2013 on -- the Dallas City Council apparently thought it was prudent to have a chat about the state of the Texas grid and what it means for the city during its meeting this Wednesday.

Representatives from ERCOT and Oncor, the power transmission company, will be giving presentations. Here's what they'll likely talk about:

Dan Woodfin, ERCOT's director of system planning, will probably toss around the latest buzzword that's scaring the crap out of lawmakers: "Resource adequacy." It means that, come this summer, or maybe the next, there won't be enough power generation to meet those peak demand times in the heat of summer and the cold of winter.

The problem, he'll explain, is that gas prices fell through the floor because the fracking boom glutted the market. And since the price of electricity in Texas is set 90 percent of the time by natural gas, profit margins these days are slim. Nobody has any incentive to build new power plants. This is exactly the opposite of how an energy-only, deregulated market is supposed to work, but that's the subject of a much longer story ...

Charles Elk, VP for Oncor Dallas customer relations, will explain how it responds to grid emergencies. Electricity supply and load demand must match. When it doesn't, uncontrolled blackouts affecting millions of Texans can result. If the available generation can't meet the system load, ERCOT may order transmission entities like Oncor to shed load, which causes a rolling blackout.

So, you know, if you're at all interested in why Texas will face significant obstacles to keeping the lights on, drop by or tune in.

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Augie
Augie

Yes the free market forces will take care of everything...except in the case of Oligarchies like power generation.  That was first year economic theory in text books.    

First California deregulated energy and Enron managed to manipulate the Western Power Grid to steal from every consumer and create massive rolling black outs and completely destabilize the grid.  So, Texas thought, what a great plan!  We should deregulate and I'm sure its going to work here, the place where Enron birthed one of the biggest scams in history.  After all, we Texans are 20 times smarter than Californians, so if something was one of the most abysmal failures of all time in California, it'll work like a charm here in Texas, right? 

Cue the reflexive Fox "news" speak that all government is bad government.  Yes, the free market is incredible, where it works, but in some areas the profit motive has proved to not be the optimal system and power generation is one of those areas. But, you can book it that this is all the fault of the evil empire known as the EPA who is by God going to try to prevent the systematic poisoning of Texans.  Bastards! 

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

Invest in a generator kids, it may be a bumpy summer...

Max from the Sandspit
Max from the Sandspit

Good ol' Ron Kirk, EDF and Henry Kravitz plus of the Gang Green cabal must be enjoying thousand dollar bottles of wine over this brain fart. For that matter so should Laura Miller. Turnes ol' Earl Nye was right and the Enviro Thugs wrong. Go figure.

Mister_Mean
Mister_Mean

It seems that all those politicians who told us that deregulation was the way to go (constantly chanting it while our electric bills, ever since deregulation has hit, have been the highest in the country) owe the public not only an explanation but an investigation of why, up until now, they were wrong.   It seems to me that they have been party to a scam.   Can you say Federal RICO racketeering violations!

Paul
Paul

Hmmm ... guess I better start looking at a generator and a transfer switch ...

I guess KKR and TPG aren't satisfied with the money that they have pulled out of the former TXU.

I'm sure that the problem will be solved with our wallets.

Electricity deregulation has worked so well ... prices have gone up, reliability has gone down ... but what the hey, we have "choice".

I wonder how oversold the generating capacity is?

mark zero (Jason)
mark zero (Jason)

Did you see the news report last night that you can see into the guest rooms of the hotel from the convention center? Including the bathrooms?

We've got ourselves the butt-beacon of hope.

(meant to be a reply to Scruffy)

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

"I've got an idea""Go ahead""We get a bunch of stationary bikes, you know, the ones in fitness centers that power their own electronics.""Go on.""We take the bikes, we set them up on the fancy bridge, since we know it really doesn't have much need anyway for traffic, there will be spare room to close a lane or two, and we rig them up with cables and string it to downtown. Then we get Larry Hagman or Janine Turner to host a cycling event to generate green power.""That's a great photo op! And it shows we love bicycling without spending $26,000 a mile to repaint roads!""It gets better!""Keep going.""Well, we know we're just one city in a state woefully underpowered with a horrendous power infrastructure, so we're going to have rolling blackouts regardless.""Strike that from the record, they can't know we know!""Sorry. Anyway, the cable stretches all the way to the Omni so we can keep the building illuminated no matter what!""Frigging brilliant. Suck on that, London! We're world class, bitches! Meeting adjourned!"

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

..and here I was hoping Morgan Freeman was going to dress up as Easy Reader and help make the presentation...

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