Report: Natural gas, wind, coal contributed to Texas outages


While some politicians sought to blame renewable energy for deadly power disruptions in February, a new report from two key agencies shows that natural gas was also a major factor.

The new preliminary report found that of the 1,045 generators that experienced outages, reductions or failures to start, 604 of them  — or nearly 58 percent — were natural gas units.

Natural gas also made up about 55 percent of the actual power that had unplanned disruptions, while 22 percent was wind and 18 percent was coal. 

But, natural gas is also the biggest source of electric power in Texas, making up more generation as of June than coal, renewables and nuclear combined. 

The state has found that more than 150 people died in the storm, while a BuzzFeed News analysis from May found an even greater number of casualties. 

Following the outages, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) claimed that the fault lied with renewables. 

“Our wind and our solar got shut down,” he told Fox News at the time. “That thrust Texas into a situation where it was lacking power on a statewide basis. ... It just shows that fossil fuel is necessary.”

The new report, from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), also said that some of the biggest issues had to do with freezing problems and fuel supply issues. 

For natural gas, it said fuel supply issues greatly outweighed freezing issues, counting 458 supply issues compared to just 86 freezing issues. 

The agency also called yet again for actions to help equipment withstand cold temperatures, specifically recommending that owners of power generators be required to protect cold weather components. 

It also said that these owners should be required to build new units and upgrade existing ones in a way that allows them to function in extreme weather and that generators that experienced outages should be required to create a corrective action plan. 

The recommendations followed a 2011 report from the two agencies, which similarly stated that companies “failed to adequately prepare for winter,” citing inadequate insulation and a failure to train operators and maintenance personnel on winter preparations. 

FERC Chairman Richard Glick, a Democrat, said in a statement that this time around, its report should actually be acted upon. 

“We can’t allow this to happen again. This time, we must take these recommendations seriously, and act decisively, to ensure the bulk power system doesn’t fail the next time extreme weather hits," he said.

"I cannot, and will not, allow this to become yet another report that serves no purpose other than to gather dust on the shelf,” he added. 

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