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Frigid temperatures in Texas are causing a surge in electricity demand and leading to rolling power blackouts across the country’s second-largest state.
Freezing weather idled many of the state’s wind turbines and resulted in reduced oil and gas production, impacting the electricity generators that rely on fossil fuels. Cities, including Dallas and Houston, were without power for up to an hour.
BIDEN SHUTTING DAKOTA ACCESS PIPELINE WOULD CAUSE FOOD PRICES TO SPIKE
"This is an example of when dependence on solar and wind is not working," said Andrew Lipow, president of the Houston-based consulting firm Lipow Oil Associates.
He says a further push toward renewable energy would require regulators to build in a "significant amount of excess reserve capacity" to replace power generated by turbines when they are frozen.
"Every grid operator and every electric company is fighting to restore power right now," Electric Reliability Council of Texas President (ERCOT) and CEO Bill Magness said in a statement. ERCOT manages power for more than 26 million Texans, about 90% of the state’s electric load.
ERCOT on Monday morning declared EEA emergency level 3 as temperatures dipped into the single digits, or even below zero in some places.
Sub-zero temperatures and wind chills are expected to persist through Tuesday, leading to further pressure on the grid.
The unprecedented demand has caused spot electricity prices in Texas’ West hub to spike above the grid’s $9,000 per megawatt-hour cap. Power typically costs $25 per megawatt-hour.
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The cold spell that has swept across much of the country has caused oil and gas prices to also rise. West Texas Intermediate crude oil on Monday ticked above $60 per barrel for the first time since January 2020 while natural gas prices have soared to records in some parts of the country.
"When things stabilize, there must be a discussion on the makeup of the grid, and how to prioritize the use of clean, cheap, plentiful reliabale natural gas for our electricity needs," Texas Railroad Commissioner Wayne Christian said in a statement.
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