By Rod Walton, Power Engineering and POWERGEN+ Content Director

It didn’t expertise the full-on catastrophe that befell the Texas grid throughout February’s historic winter storm, however the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) had its arms full and far of its capability empty when the prolonged sub-zero temperatures, snow and ice hit the U.S. area.

The grid system operator answerable for 14 states–together with these to the north, east and west of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas territory—survived a worst case situation, however nonetheless suffered as much as 35 GW in producing capability outages and needed to shed about three.2 GW of complete load over a number of hours throughout the worst intervals of Feb. 15 and 16.

“That’s not what we wish to do, however we needed to forestall uncontrolled outages which might have lasted for much longer,” Lanny Nickell, govt vp and chief working officer for SPP, advised the Oklahoma Corporation Commission throughout a current presentation on the influence of the winter storm to that state and others within the SPP territory.

“This was unprecedented for us,” he identified.

Numerous southern states had been hit by lingering freezing and icy climate which was useful resource agnostic in the way it broken energy technology and grid efficiency throughout that frigid February storm. Gas vegetation failed, gasoline pipelines failed, coal vegetation and wind farms failed. Everything failed on some degree for a while.

In Texas, 52 GW of outage compelled load sheds impacting tens of millions of consumers and will have led to as many as 80 deaths, in line with reviews. ERCOT has reported that the lack of technology threatened frequency on the grid system and virtually precipitated a whole blackout which could have taken weeks or months to restore.

SPP’s drama was solely barely much less intense, Nickell famous. In his discuss with the Oklahoma Corporation Commission – which oversees the regulated utility operations in that state—he underlined that blame, if any was going to be assigned, could possibly be pointed in each course.

“This is a really difficult machine,” he advised the regulators. “When it adjustments, generally it adjustments very quick.”

The influence of Winter Storm Uri, as some have referred to as it, is definitely much less of a grid occasion and extra about lack of technology. Close to 40 p.c of nameplate capability throughout the SPP was unavailable throughout probably the most excessive intervals of the freezing stretch—and that included gas-fired, wind and coal-fired technology.

In reality, technology provide couldn’t meet demand within the mornings of Feb. 15-16, when it was coldest and clients had been making an attempt to maintain their houses heat. The SPP was compelled to import important quantities of power from the Eastern Interconnection, whereas additionally attraction publicly for purchasers to decrease their thermostats and climate the storm with out additional interruption.

Natural gasoline makes up the predominant technology useful resource within the SPP, and it additionally failed on a bigger degree than coal and nuclear. At one of many worst intervals, solely half of the accredited gasoline capability was accessible, Nickell identified.  Among the explanations for this unavailability was heightened use of gasoline for residence heating, in addition to pipeline provide disruptions.

“The majority of unavailability was pushed by lack of gasoline,” he stated to the Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner, including moments later, “Gas technology contributed 60 p.c of the unavailable technology downside.”

Utility-scale wind energy capability was additionally hobbled by freezing temperatures shutting down generators and turbines. Overall within the SPP, nonetheless, wind did fairly nicely, with near 95 p.c of its accredited provide accessible to dispatch into the grid.

Coal offered an even bigger general proportion of the technology combine throughout the worst intervals, however truly delivered a decrease p.c of its capability than wind. Overall, SPP data present that coal delivered 41 p.c,…

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