Tuesday (two days ago):
HOUSTON – ERCOT put out a notice at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday afternoon saying the state’s reserve levels dropped below 2,300 megawatts, putting into effect an Energy Emergency Alert level 1.
“We are requesting that consumers and businesses reduce their electricity use during peak electricity hours from 3 to 7 p.m. today, particularly between 4 and 5 p.m. when we expect to hit another peak demand record,” said Kent Saathoff, vice president of system planning and operations. “We do not know at this time if additional emergency steps will be needed.”
More blackouts this afternoon (i.e. Thursday):
Extreme heat and soaring power demand may force the Texas power grid operator to impose rolling outages on Thursday afternoon to prevent a wider blackout as residents struggle with a record-breaking heatwave.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, ERCOT, moved to curtail power to some industrial customers Thursday afternoon as a way to boost surplus power to keep residential air conditioners running over the hottest part of the afternoon.
The state -- broiling under a relentless streak of 100-plus degree temperatures and drought -- has set three power consumption records this week, straining power plants.
And where are Texas' 9,727 MW of wind turbines in this crisis? Out to lunch. One picture says it all (note the distinct scales):
http://www.ercot.com/gridinfo/generation/ (August 2011)
Note how wind power is strongly anticorrelated with the afternoon demand peak! Wind power "reliably fails" whenever electricity is most needed.
The American Wind Energy Association is here to give us their "spin" on the situation:
Commented American Wind Energy Association Manager of Transmission Policy Michael Goggin, "At a time when the extreme heat prevailing in Texas is pushing the utility system close to its limits, wind generation is making a valuable and much-needed contribution to system reliability."
At the risk of revisiting the obvious, these were the operating power levels of Texas' four nuclear power reactors over the same week, according to the NRC:
|power reactor||capacity (net)||7/27||7/28||7/29||7/30||7/31||8/1||8/2||8/3|
|Comanche Peak #1 (PWR)||1,209 MWe||100%||100%||100%||100%||100%||100%||100%||100%|
|Comanche Peak #2 (PWR)||1,158 MWe||100%||100%||100%||100%||100%||100%||100%||100%|
|South Texas #1 (PWR)||1,280 MWe||100%||100%||100%||100%||100%||100%||100%||100%|
|South Texas #2 (PWR)||1,280 MWe||100%||100%||100%||100%||100%||100%||100%||100%|
Update (8/11): One week later, more of the same:
Informative article in WSJ: