Excuses, excuses

By Nancy Black

“Due to a combination of high generation outages typical in April and higher-than-forecasted demand from a stalled cold front over Texas, ERCOT may enter into emergency conditions this afternoon [Tuesday, April 13, 2021],” said ERCOT Vice President of Grid Planning and Operations, Woody Rickerson. Really, ERCOT? Really? You’re blaming “high generation outages typical in April” AND a “stalled cold front” for your newest problems producing enough energy for Texans? 

April is one of the best months we have in Texas. The bluebonnets are in bloom, the weather is mostly sunny with scattered April showers, which bring May flowers. The rolling sound of thunder often fills our nights as rain quenches the thirsty soil. And most people open their windows to let the spring breeze flow through their homes. 

And ERCOT is out of energy?

A press release sent to media representatives stated: “Given the event in February, it is important to note that we do not expect customer outages. Rather, this emergency declaration allows us to access tools that will bring supply and demand back into line.” 

And they made clear they wanted all readers to see the bold print in their statement. Those words are not the ones that caught my eye. The ones that did? The two words “the event.”

“The event”? You mean when more than 4 million Texans were left without power for more than a week during a deadly freeze/snowstorm? I don’t know about you, but I consider an “event” a fun time, like a concert or party. What most Texans experienced during the power outages in February was more like a nightmare — a long, cold terrifying dream they could not wake up from.

ERCOT claims the emergency declaration allows the company to “access tools” to bring supply and demand “back into line.” ERCOT wants costumers and businesses to reduce their electricity immediately. I want ERCOT to get their act together. For goodness sakes, this is Texas! We are the leading producer of crude oil AND natural gas in the United States. Here are some other quick facts from the U.S. Energy Information Administration:

• As of January 2019, the 30 petroleum refineries in Texas were able to process about 5.8 million barrels of crude oil per day and accounted for 31 percent of the nation’s refining capacity.

• Texas leads the nation in wind-powered generation and produced about 28 percent of all the U.S. wind-powered electricity in 2019. Texas wind turbines have produced more electricity than both of the state’s nuclear power plants since 2014. 

• Texas produces more electricity than any other state, generating almost twice as much as Florida, the second-highest electricity-producing state.

• Texas is the largest energy-producing and energy-consuming state in the nation. The industrial sector, including its refineries and petrochemical plants, accounts for half of the energy consumed in the state.

So, consumers and businesses only use half of Texas’ energy. Refineries, petrochemical plants, and the like are gobbling up the rest of that power. Is ERCOT asking those companies to reduce their electricity usage during this troubling time in Texas that ERCOT calls “April”? I bet not. But I’m not a gambler. And I want to do my part.  So, I’m going to reduce my energy usage, because I do not want Texas to suffer another wide-spread power outage. 

It’s the least I can do, because I care about my fellow Texans. I wish ERCOT felt the same way.