Thursday, February 03, 2011
DFW Power Shortages - Winter Storm
Why did ERCOT lose 50 generators totaling about 7,000MW? I heard one radio report that the west Texas wind mills failed to provide power during this storm, but have been unable to find anything written about it.
Next day...Oncor, the transmission company admitted making a mistake by cutting off critical care hospitals while implementing ERCOT's "rolling blackout" order. Oops, my bad! Going forward, the Oncor spokesperson said they need to work on their "processes". This new wave management gibberish drives me nuts. It seems to me that the current approach to ducking responsibility is to fog the issue with meaningless lingo.
When our utility was TXU or even the TESCO, DP&L, TP&L companies before that, I don't recall them having the same problems doing what they were charged to do; generate and deliver electricity. Sure, there were upsets due to tornado or hurricane damage, but losing 7,000 MW to a cold snap, come on now.
About 3-years ago TXU was purchased by 3 large investment fund managers and broken in to several subsidiaries--a generating co. and a transmission co. among them. I'm not a fan of bankers, accountants, and lawyers trying to "run" technical enterprises. Invariably, they focus on the short-term balance sheets and resist making long-term reliability investments.
If the technical group were out ranked and out classed by the financial gurus, then I would expect expensive things like preventative maintenance work to be a hard sell within the organization. Ultimately, as the old adage goes, you can pay now or you can pay later...but with regard to keeping equipment running, you are going to pay sometime.
A technical guy will recommend doing the routine maintenance so you can better control the reliability, but a financial guy will want to wait until it breaks and he is forced to spend the money. Unfortunately, waiting leads to unscheduled outages at the least convenient times. But luckily for the geniuses making the "wait" decisions, retribution is rarely forthcoming because few outsiders understand the real problem they induce.
I think this is a sort of replay of the foolishness in the BP blowout this past summer.
Posted by Gus at 5:45 AM