2021-02-15 22:22:30 UTC
Historic winter storm freezes Texas wind turbines; millions without power
Nearly half of Texas wind energy production has frozen to a halt
Millions are without power in Texas after a historic winter storm blasted the
state over the weekend, creating freezing conditions that have made the roads
dangerous and knocking out nearly half of Texas' installed wind power
Texas grid operators who spoke to the Austin American-Statesman said freezing
rain and historically low temperatures caused wind turbines in West Texas to
freeze to a halt, knocking out some 12,000 megawatts of energy production. Wind
farms in Texas typically generate up to 25,100 megawatts of energy, almost half
of which is currently out of production as the state works to thaw out the
"This is a unique winter storm that's more widespread with lots of moisture in
West Texas, where there's a lot of times not a lot of moisture," said Dan
Woodfin, senior director of system operations for the Electric Reliability
Council of Texas, the nonprofit corporation that manages the power grid. "It's
certainly more than what we would typically assume."
According to the American-Statesman, wind power is the fastest-growing source of
energy in Texas' power grid. In 2013, Texas lawmakers approved a $7 billion plan
to subsidize wind energy production. Wind farms now provide 23% of Texas energy
and are the second-largest source of energy after natural gas.
Some of the lost wind power in West Texas has been offset by coastal wind farms
to the east that are still operational and spinning faster, propelled by storm
gusts. But the frozen turbines have contributed to rolling blackouts that have
put more than 2.7 million people out of power Monday.
ERCOT reported Monday that electricity demand hit a new winter peak record. In
response to the demand, ERCOT asked residents to attempt to reduce their
electricity use as much as possible in a news release statement.
"We are experiencing record-breaking electric demand due to the extreme cold
temperatures that have gripped Texas," ERCOT President and CEO Bill Magness
said. "At the same time, we are dealing with higher-than-normal generation
outages due to frozen wind turbines and limited natural gas supplies available
to generating units. We are asking Texans to take some simple, safe steps to
lower their energy use during this time."