Daily Archives: February 18, 2021

I still have all my fingers and toes, and thoughts on how to make it true for everyone

The near-zero °F weather hasn’t been all that dangerous because I never get far from the house for long enough to get hurt. I went to check the mail twice just to make sure it didn’t run (hasn’t for 3 days so far), and that’s all the time I spent outside. So far we had one extended power outage caused by lack of natural gas to the co-op generator that hasn’t happened again. We still have good water pressure and safe water to drink, and the water heater is still online.

In other news as of today Mrs. the Poet has been married to me 43 years. Yeah I know, I don’t know how she did it either. I am NOT the easiest person to live with, but neither am I the worst person to live with. I have my problems, and so does Mrs. the Poet. We manage to not kill each other somehow and are still together in spite of all the people betting against us. How that happened I’m not really sure, but I think it means we were made for each other. I don’t know how it happened, but I’m glad it did.

Back to the weather and the problems caused by it, the causes have been isolated. Basically it comes down to a system designed to run on the ragged edge because profits, which when the Spam hit the fan basically fell apart because there was no reserve capacity for abnormal conditions like there would be if it was regulated by people who put reliability over profits. The system has enough capacity to handle the load if the weather is above freezing, but as the temperatures dropped near or below 0°F the equipment wasn’t built to take it and went offline. The controls at natural gas wellheads literally froze up and wouldn’t allow more gas to flow in spite of demand. The wind turbines were not equipped with deicing equipment and froze up and couldn’t turn at full speed, because it was cheaper to not equip them, and nobody to force them to install the equipment. This is why electrical power systems need to be regulated because making the system work in good weather is not good enough, making the system work in really hot weather isn’t good enough because it gets hot every summer, but the system has to be built for when weather gets really bad once in a blue moon. And the last time it got this cold was winter of 1989-90.

There are only 2 ways to fix this. Either make everybody build to the standard that will work at -10°F, or pay operators to be emergency capacity and have wind turbines that will work at -40°F and wells that still work at -40°F just to make sure they will work in spite of anything that comes down from Canada on the jet stream. Personally I think making everyone build to the same standard works better than paying some to build to be ready for anything. If you can’t (won’t) build to standards that exceed record bad weather then you don’t get paid as much for your electricity when the weather is good. If you build for all weather then your turbine gets a bonus to keep it that way when weather is good. This recognizes that building and maintaining systems that only get used once or twice a decade is an added expense and compensating operators that build to that standard. Since TX is so afraid of “regulations”, make them “incentives” instead. I don’t know what way would be best to do it, whether paying more per KWatt/hour, or by paying a flat rate per month for fully winterized systems. The only other way to do it and be fair is to require winterized systems for every provider.

And in case you wonder about that tag.The Flintstone Happy anniversary song full clip How Barney manages to sing and play piano with his head facing the wrong direction I’ll never understand beyond “cartoon logic”.