Skip to main content, Texas had a cold snap...there were rolling blackouts...wholesale electricity prices went from $50 per MegaWatt to the cap of $3,000 per MegaWatt (which had been lifted from $2,250 to $3,000 the day before the blackouts - see pdf page 102 (p94))...

and then the investigations started.  State legislatures, state regulators, independent market monitors, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the North American Energy Reliablity Corporation (NERC).

FERC and NERC joined forces a few months back and they just released their report.

The scope of the investigation was:

pdf page 10
On February 14, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) initiated an inquiry into the Southwest outages and service disruptions. The inquiry had two objectives: to identify the causes of the disruptions, and to identify any appropriate actions for preventing a recurrence of the disruptions. FERC stated it was not at that time initiating an investigation into whether there may have been violations of applicable regulations, requirements or standards under FERC’s jurisdiction, and that any decisions on whether to initiate enforcement investigations would be made later. Consequently, while this report describes actions which in some cases appear to warrant further investigation, it does not reach any conclusions as to whether violations have occurred.

The FERC report covers both natural gas and electricity.  Read it if you like.

Feb 09, 2011 Barely Mentioned
The FERC report seems to diminish Feb 09:

Cold weather hit the region again on February 9 and February 10. The coldest temperatures were seen on February 9, when El Paso recorded a low of -2 degrees, and Midland a low of 7 degrees. Daily highs, however, were in the 30s and 40s. Other cities saw lows dip into the 20s and teens, with high temperatures rising into the 40s and 50s.

They don't say that the high on Feb 09 occurred at 12:02am and that it quickly fell to 16 degrees by 10:47am.  It stayed right at 20 degrees most of the day.  Winds were from the north at 19.9mph on average.

This isn't much different from Feb 01 where it was also in the 20s all day with an average north wind of 26.4mph.

Feb 02 was indeed colder on average.  Its low was 13 but it spent much of the day near 20 just as Feb 09 did. Winds were from the north at 18.1mph.  But I had my thermostat set at 61.

On Feb 09th, my thermostat was set at 64 and my usage was much lower (one third that of Feb 02)

The study says that the weather was to blame for the problems and they say that the reason the problems didnt show up on the equally cold day of Feb 10 was becasue:

from pdf p17

Low temperatures returned to the region on February 10. In fact, ERCOT set a new winter peak that day. But no load shedding proved necessary, largely because the temperatures were not quite as cold or sustained as those of the previous week, the winds were less severe, and many of the repairs and protective measures taken by the generators on February 2 remained in place.

This makes sense and I agree.  The problems didnt return en masse becasue generators were still in a prepared state from the previous cold front.  This does not, however, mean anything as far as my personal energy use or the usage of any other low income resident.  Feb 10 was mentioned again on pdf page 107.  

Blame The Wind
There was also this which seems to lay the blame for dramatic increases in reported energy usage on the wind:

from pdf p290

The accelerated cooling effect of the wind affects buildings and homes throughout the community, and can significantly increase demand for electric power. In particular, buildings that are not well insulated, with frequently opened doors or drafty windows, can experience higher rates of heat loss on windy days, increasing the demand for heating energy.

Im not exactly sure why the FERC felt the need to diminish Feb 09 or to add the part about "buildings that are not well insulated, with frequently opened doors or drafty windows, can experience higher rates of heat loss on windy days, increasing the demand for heating energy."  It appears to be aimed at lower income housing.

My apartment is located on the southeast side of my building and I have apartments on both the north and west of me. I'm an energy aware person and I do my best to protect myself against things like drafts.  One thing I know for sure is that the wind did not triple my energy usage.  All assumptions seem to be that it was cold, therefore excessive energy was used.  It doesn't take my actual actions into account. (like keeping my thermostat extra low on Feb 02 - the day of my record).

The FERC study (and others so far) focussed on generation and possible withholding of supply.  It doesnt appear that anyone has even looked into why the usage levels were so high for some of us.  

I'm hoping they will investigate further but the way they seem to be ignoring the facts about Feb 09 doesn't give me much hope.

Note that this diary is part of my smartmeter diary  series.  I've been hit with unreasonably high usage and I'm trying to find answers.

If you live in the DFW area and have a smartmeter
Please help me by going to the website and checking your daily usage totals for the following dates:  (especially if you live in lower income/older housing)

Im looking for patterns in the data.

March 21, 2010 (note the year - dont worry if you cant check that one)
Jan 11, 2011
Feb 01 , 02, and 03, 04
Feb 09 and Feb 10


Originally posted to echo still on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 06:13 PM PDT.

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