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Thread: Deep Freeze in the South

  1. #16
    Super Moderator United States Dreamtimer's Avatar
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    From a resident:

    Did you know that a house could have brick, then foamboard, then drywall? No plywood. Yes. And most of the McMansions in Texas, the newly built resource dragging unsustainable “boom” so often talked about, are what we call crackerboxes.
    If we ever build a house again, it will not be through a developer. It will be custom. One of the big problems with these houses, hundreds of thousands of them, is the plumbing. The pipes run through exterior walls. Why? Cheaper, and it doesn’t get cold there often.
    But if it does get cold, here is what HGTV says to do:

    If the water pipes are freezing inside the exterior wall, cut an opening in the wall to expose the pipes to the home's warm air. Place fiberglass insulation behind the pipes, between the pipes and the home's exterior wall. The hole in the wall can be covered later with a hinged door or a panel that can be removed during cold spells.
    Fantastic. So just keep my house at 70 or so, and it should be no problem, because the walls will stay warm.

    Good to know.

    Perfect.

    So as long as the electric stays on-

    But if doesn’t, Houston, and Texas, has a problem.
    Our old subdivision is completely unpowered. On and off, but lately, almost all off. The exterior pipes are frozen, water is not going to run, because, the pipes are frozen. The pipes will likely burst. What we have here is a perfect storm:

    Cheaply built, overpriced housing.

    Cheaply run, overpriced electric.

    No winterization on anything, houses, the grid, nada.

    Inefficient clearance of roads.

    Lack of supplies.

    Angry, angry Texans.

    And yearly, without fail, Texas is treating us to blockbuster Hollywood scripts, be it Harvey, excessive heat, droughts, ice, all related to climate change and all continuously ignored by people too stupid to tie their shoes but somehow able to navigate a voting booth.

    And if a state has been treated like a petty cash account for thirty years by its dominant political leadership, there is only one question left to ask:

    Who plays the lead in the movie?

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  3. #17
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    Question

    Quote Originally posted by Dreamtimer View Post
    They'll learn.

    Is Texas’ Disaster a Harbinger of America’s Future?
    Presenting an alternative to the alternative community.

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  5. #18
    Super Moderator United States Dreamtimer's Avatar
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    Governor Abbot and others are full-of-it. No surprise there. As usual, follow the money.

    As Ars Technica pointed out on Monday, wind power in Texas is currently working at over 100% of its projected capacity. The real problem is that the Texas electrical grid is working exactly as designed, by people who created a system where the occasional failure is a virtue. Because the profits are better that way.
    What ERCOT created was a system where electrical prices can float based on momentary spikes in demand. Prices can soar to several dollars per kilowatt/hour when the grid is hard pressed, or literally be in negative territory when the demand fails to meet the base level of generation by the system. When consumers in Texas buy electricity, they don’t see these wild swings in their bills. That’s because individual consumers in Texas don’t really buy electricity. They buy a sort of “electricity insurance,” one in which providers contract to provide them power at a fixed or semi-fixed price. That price is, of course, designed to be well above the median cost of power on ERCOT’s self-contained electricity market. Electricity insurance, like medical insurance, creates another level at which there’s an opportunity for profit.
    The reason people in Texas are currently experiencing the collapse of a badly overloaded system, leading to extended outages lasting for hours, is simply because that’s the way the system is designed to work. The incentive in Texas is to provide for exactly as much power as is needed, and not one hamster-wheel-driven watt more. Because in a system that never reached 100% of capacity, power would always be cheap. It’s fighting over the difference between 99.9% demand and 100.1% demand that drives the system and generates profits.

    So how did wind come into it? That’s also because of profits. Texas doesn’t have over 10,700 wind turbines generating power for its grid because rural Texans decided they liked the look, or because there was a sudden inspiration to “go green.” Texas has wind power because wind power is so insanely cheap. It’s so cheap that producing power from wind turbines is less than the cost of operating a coal-fired power plant. That’s not the cost of building the plant. Someone could build coal plants for free, hand them over to the utilities, and just running them would still cost more than going out and buying the wind turbines to replace them.

    Texas has wind power, because in a market highly incentivized to find the cheapest solution, wind power came out on top. With the rapidly falling prices, solar is also starting to form a bigger part of the picture in Texas, but for the moment the other big player in that state is the same as it is in most states—natural gas.
    [W]ith fracking, gas was suddenly abundant and cheap. Building natural gas power plants is also relatively cheap. Unlike coal plants, which for a number of reasons work best when absolutely enormous (and carrying a price tag that’s, at least, several hundred million), natural gas power can start small and grow. The incremental nature of gas power, and the high efficiency of combined cycle production, saw gas displace coal across the nation with a rapidity that shocked most energy experts—and bankrupted coal producers.
    What Texas has now is a system that’s composed of gas, wind, a lingering set of older coal plants, and a modest amount of nuclear. All of it just enough to provide power when Texas hits those hot summer days when every AC in Dallas goes to “high cool.”

    So, what went wrong on Monday? It wasn’t “frozen turbines,” no matter what Fox News says. Again, wind is more than keeping up with its share of the projected load.
    Part of the issue comes down to that other item at the top of Texas’ power mix—natural gas. In cold weather, natural gas is in demand because it can be used directly for home heating. That’s driving up not just the price of gas, but also limiting its availability. That’s because the system of pipelines that carry the gas around is also built to match a certain level of demand. Pipelines are expensive. Companies don’t build them “just in case.” High prices and limited availability mean that Texas gas plants are underperforming.

    It appears that coal plants are doing the same. It’s not clear exactly why that would be.
    But the biggest thing wrong with the electrical system in Texas is there’s simply not enough of it. The way the system was designed placed all the incentives at finding the ragged edge of consumption and staying there. As demand has increased, more capacity has been added, but only enough to keep things at that ragged edge. Because that’s the most profitable point for everyone in this pocket-market and insurance scheme. Make too much power, and you end up with stories like this one from 2015, where energy prices in Texas were negative for hours.
    (Wind power was so plentiful in Texas that producers sold it at a negative price. What?)

    The ragged edge is usually found in the summertime, when the outside in Texas is 100 and every Texan wants the inside temperature to be 70. So the system is designed to overcome that 30 degree difference. Right now, people are trying to make their homes 70, and the temperature is 10. There’s just not enough power out there to make it so. Making it worse is that homes in Texas are generally designed around the idea of keeping heat out, rather than holding it in.

    Put it all together, and Texas’ system simply buckled on Monday. Demand far exceeded supply, prices went through the roof, and the grid itself failed to a phenomenal degree as the big-boy equivalent of breakers tripped everywhere.
    It's really, really, really difficult for Republicans to admit they screwed up, or to admit that their privatization doesn't work. So they scapegoat. It was the windmills!

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  7. #19
    Super Moderator United States Dreamtimer's Avatar
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    These images and videos of peoples' houses being flooded, and likely ruined, by frozen pipes make me livid. People shouldn't be having to pay again and again for the screw-ups of their leaders and businesses who need to make money at the risk of people.

    We desperately need balance between the value of life and the value of profit.

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  9. #20
    Super Moderator United States Dreamtimer's Avatar
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    Another great irony, Texans will want and welcome Federal Assistance. And they'll remember. Many will, anyway.

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  11. #21
    Super Moderator United States Dreamtimer's Avatar
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    Colorado City, Texas mayor Boyd has resigned. Appropriately.

    The resignation came several hours after Boyd posted a typo-ridden screed on Facebook asserting that the government “owes you NOTHING!” during the crisis.
    Says a Florida taxpayer:

    So, the government I elected, and I pay my taxes to, owes me nothing?
    F*ck THAT
    It's like when Kushner said that protective equipment paid for by tax dollars didn't belong to the People.

    Losers. They need a scarlet 'L' tattooed on their foreheads.

    Boyd is now very distressed that he and his family are getting harassed. Oh really? And what exactly did he expect? Kudos? Applause? From what kind of person?

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  13. #22
    Senior Member NotAPretender's Avatar
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    I should have bought a generator years ago. Yes, Texas ... I hope Chester is warm.
    “But those who have been under the shadow, who have gone down at last to elemental things, will have a wider charity” - Herbert George Wells -

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  15. #23
    Super Moderator United States Dreamtimer's Avatar
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    If he's still active over at PA, then I would think he's doing OK, but it's hard to know. I hope he has folks around him and they can support each other.

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    Senior Member NotAPretender's Avatar
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    Before this week, he had been pretty quiet, I think ...

    An excellent point made in the article from Gio ... I was in my car yesterday powering my phone and listening to different 'official' voices. The difference in tone was palpable. It was obvious which had power and which didn't. Even the 'friendlies' were different in presentation than those that were powerless.
    “But those who have been under the shadow, who have gone down at last to elemental things, will have a wider charity” - Herbert George Wells -

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  19. #25
    Super Moderator United States Dreamtimer's Avatar
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    Rogan moved to Austin? I forgot that was in the works. I haven't listened to him much recently.

    "...a few guys sliding around in 4x4s..." Lol. Ice is not snow. I managed to navigate the river valley here in a minivan while trucks and SUVs were spun out along the way. It's a nutso experience trying to drive on ice. And when your child is in the car with you, mad skills emerge."

    "I am stuck in a slow-motion catastrophe." That's a good parallel. America has also been in a slow motion catastrophe.

    “Gas is failing in the most spectacular fashion right now,” Michael Webber, an energy resources professor at the University of Texas at Austin, told the Texas Tribune.
    Prepare for ramped up, amped up denial.

    The levels of cynicism and opportunism here are staggering, especially in the midst of a state-wide emergency that is causing untold suffering and death.
    It's pretty bad when deaths aren't the main concern. How can people even believe they fight for capitalism when they're so willing to let folks die? Economic systems don't thrive when people are dying from pandemics, weather events, social unrest, system collapse and more. (I had to look up 'server farm').

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  21. #26
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    This is a thing:

    For electricity providers in Texas, this has been the best week ever. The same goes for natural gas companies. And coal companies. And drilling companies. And on down the line. The entire energy industry, including the owners of Texas wind farms, has seen a tremendous surge of profit. That surge was so great that on just two days this week, Monday and Tuesday, providers could easily have cleared more profit than they do in a full year of ordinary, full-scale production. Not providing adequate electricity to Texas is much more profitable than providing every Texan with the power they need. By design.
    From the Bloomberg article (linked above):

    “The financial incentive isn’t there to harden that infrastructure,” he added. “From a generator perspective, the only incentive is to bring energy to market as cheaply as possible.”
    Most of Texas is exhausted. But the energy industry is ecstatic. They’re coming down from a sugar rush that has sent an injection of billions straight into their pockets, and all they had to do to collect it was be bad at their supposed jobs.
    Only the best people, right?

    The incentives of that market are intended to keep the difference between supply and demand in Texas razor thin. The way that pricing is conducted under ERCOT means that the price of electricity can fluctuate wildly in a very short period on very small changes in the available supply. Those “spikes” in prices are the primary means by which the system incentivizes expansion of the electricity supply. And it really does provide incentive. It provides incentive to generate more spikes.


    I see a strange parallel here. Price spikes. Spike proteins. Both plaguing people while rich folks get the special treatments.

    You'd think it was by design.

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  23. #27
    Senior Member Lord Sidious's Avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dreamtimer View Post

    The jet stream has a huge dip in it.

    And Florida has an orange dipstick in it...............
    Ní siocháin go saoirse

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    Senior Member NotAPretender's Avatar
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    God knows that's true ... Do dipsticks have holes? Because most of his followers have their heads embedded.
    “But those who have been under the shadow, who have gone down at last to elemental things, will have a wider charity” - Herbert George Wells -

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    Quote Originally posted by Dreamtimer View Post
    This is a thing:



    From the Bloomberg article (linked above):





    Only the best people, right?





    I see a strange parallel here. Price spikes. Spike proteins. Both plaguing people while rich folks get the special treatments.

    You'd think it was by design.
    The Intriquing thing is that Elon Musk lives in Austin, Texas now, he is the king of Megabattery projects that make money exactly through the aforementioned spikes in Energy demand, with their quick reactions and yet Texas has none of this.

    He has managed to turn around the similarly dire grid of the state of South Australia, with just a couple of these megabatteries, linked to solar and windfarms. I think that a dozen or so megabatteries, courtesy of Elon Musk, would probably solve the state's energy problems, along with a bit of winterization, which can easily be mandated by the state legislature.

    The story of how Elon Musk saved South Australia's energy grid is worth researching, it really is a fascinating story that could serve as a template for Texas.

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  29. #30
    Senior Member NotAPretender's Avatar
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    Hi Chris, nothing is easy in the Texas legislature, especially things that the rest of the world would consider so obvious that to miss them suggests a serious mental dysfunction.
    “But those who have been under the shadow, who have gone down at last to elemental things, will have a wider charity” - Herbert George Wells -

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