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Texas Freeze In Blackouts, As Wind Farms Fail

February 16, 2021

By Paul Homewood


Energy crisis in Texas, as wind farms fail:



Over two million homes and businesses in Texas are without power Monday morning as winter storm Uri sweeps across the central United States.

“The agency that oversees Texas’ electric grid declared an ‘energy emergency alert three’ early Monday after the grid experienced a systemwide failure,” the Weather Channel reported.

The alert turned into rotating outages that are likely to continue through Tuesday morning, according to grid managers.

About 2.5 million people were without power as of 9:00 a.m., the outlet tweeted:


“Every grid operator and every electric company is fighting to restore power right now,” explained Bill Magness, who is president and CEO of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas.

The report continued:

Texas set a winter peak demand record Sunday night, and that demand was expected to increase Monday and Tuesday as temperatures fall into the low single digits or colder. The rolling outages were supposed to last 15 to 45 minutes, utility operators said, but the bitter cold was impacting some remote systems and causing the outages to last longer than planned.

Texans are being asked to conserve power where they are able.

Residents should keep their thermostat set at 68 degrees, avoid using appliances such as dishwashers, washing machines, and dryers, and turn off non-essential lights and other appliances.


The intense cold weather has seen power demand rise to levels normally seen in mid summer, but the real problem has been the failure of wind farms:

Nearly half of Texas’ installed wind power generation capacity has been offline because of frozen wind turbines in West Texas, according to Texas grid operators.

Wind farms across the state generate up to a combined 25,100 megawatts of energy. But unusually moist winter conditions in West Texas brought on by the weekend’s freezing rain and historically low temperatures have iced many of those wind turbines to a halt.

As of Sunday morning, those iced turbines comprise 12,000 megawatts of Texas’ installed wind generation capacity, although those West Texas turbines don’t typically spin to their full generation capacity this time of year.


Wind power now supplies about a quarter of Texas’s electricity, more than double the figure five years ago:




Fortunately Texas can still get most of its electricity from reliable sources:



However, six coal fired power stations, totalling 3.9 GW, have closed in the last three years. Two more are scheduled to shut in the next few years. With these still on line, these blackouts could easily have been averted.

Heaven help America if Biden gets his wish and shuts down fossil fuel.

Meanwhile, the ironically named Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), who seem surprised that it gets cold in winter, have told customers to set ceiling fans to the winter setting by running them clockwise, to pull the warm air down.

So that’s alright then!

  1. GeoffB permalink
    February 16, 2021 10:47 am

    New York Times this morning….

    The brutal cold in the middle of the country seemed to defy a trend of ever-milder winters, but research suggests that frigid temperatures in Texas could be a consequence of global warming, a phenomenon that has prompted the climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe to use the phrase “global weirding.”

    Ha Ha

    • dave permalink
      February 16, 2021 11:38 am

      Interesting how, within one rambling sentence, “could be” is replaced by “a phenomenon” – i.e. something asserted as an incontrovertible fact – with an ineffably silly name attached, so the sheeple know how to mumble it in their prayers, ” Please, please, please save us from the global weirding demon!”

    • Hivemind permalink
      February 16, 2021 10:17 pm

      “Global weirding” was market tested a few years ago (just after “extreme weather” if I recall correctly), but was a failure because the weather was visibly not weirder. It won’t get much more of a run today, because too many people know that this is just another normal winter storm.

    • EyeSee permalink
      February 17, 2021 8:41 am

      All you can say is “Hey ho”.

  2. Philip Mulholland permalink
    February 16, 2021 10:51 am

    Trouble in Texas.

  3. February 16, 2021 11:06 am

    According to Tallbloke and as quoted by Chiefio “The largest cities from Houston to San Antonio were without power for spells of up to an hour at a time as supplies in the U.S.’s second largest state fluctuated wildly.” The Carbon intense fuel source doesn’t seem to be doing much for them.

    • josiah C lilly permalink
      February 18, 2021 11:23 pm

      25000 kw from frozen windmills not helping either

  4. Robert Christopher permalink
    February 16, 2021 11:13 am

    And in nearby Mexico:

    Un-Greening: Mexico gives up on renewables, revives coal industry

  5. Phillip Bratby permalink
    February 16, 2021 11:18 am

    The only reliable power stations in this type of situation are nuclear and coal. Nuclear because the core contains months of fuel and coal because power stations store huge heaps of coal. Gas power stations are vulnerable because they cannot store gas and if there is a shortage of gas it will preferentially be sent to domestic consumers. Now I wonder what those brilliant advisers in the CCC tell the politicians are the best type of electricity generators for when demand peaks in cold weather?

    • Duker permalink
      February 16, 2021 10:20 pm

      The US does store very large amounts of natural gas in some geologic features which are well suited for it such as ‘salt domes’ and depleted natural gas fields
      ‘There are approximately 400 active storage facilities in 30 states.
      Approximately 20 percent of all natural gas consumed during the five-month winter heating season each year is supplied by underground storage.
      There are three principal types of underground storage sites used in the United States today: depleted natural gas or oil fields (80%), aquifers (10%) and salt formations (10%).

      • Chris Morris permalink
        February 16, 2021 11:01 pm

        They might store it but the main constraints are the pipelines. The compressors don’t work to well either when their power supply goes down.

  6. February 16, 2021 11:24 am

    Great Tucker piece on this here,

  7. A C Osborn permalink
    February 16, 2021 11:34 am

    Even the BBC reported on it using the word unprecedented.

    • dave permalink
      February 16, 2021 12:07 pm

      I have no idea what the BBC is saying, but they may have been confused by the fact that the grid authority referred to an unprecedented shortage of generating capacity, which is probably true – due to their silly decisions in the recent past, of course.

      Cold snaps in SW of the USA are certainly not unprecedented. Any fule kno that the center of North America can be swept through any time by air from either the Equator or the North Pole. The subject that deals with this was once called ‘Geography For The Lower Forms of Schools.’

    • Phillip Bratby permalink
      February 16, 2021 1:52 pm

      The BBC man said that in one part of the state, wind turbines were frozen and not working, but in another part (near the Gulf) they were performing above average.

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        February 16, 2021 4:35 pm

        I saw a report that wind was providing a total of 4.2GW. The EIA report a total of 34GW of wind capacity for Texas – some of which will be outside the ERCOT region in the Panhandle and the Eastern fringes. When demand was running at up to 72GW it is not a lot of help.

  8. Tim the Coder permalink
    February 16, 2021 12:01 pm

    Both timing and location are perfect.
    Biden has just started a green freak program, by decree, bringing it to people’s attention, and Texas is the least likely place on earth to put up with this nonsense.
    They need to reopen the coal stations, build the nukes that Obama cancelled, and export their rational actions worldwide: we need to send Princess Nut Nuts packing.
    Gerwomany needs to do similar.

    • michael bales permalink
      February 17, 2021 1:23 am

      yes we need another 3 mile island or Chernobyl

    • josiah C lilly permalink
      February 18, 2021 11:24 pm


  9. Lez permalink
    February 16, 2021 12:14 pm

    The number of outages in Texas alone is now over 4 million.

  10. MrGrimNasty permalink
    February 16, 2021 12:14 pm

    Deep cold intrusions into the US are not unprecedented, Texas has had freezing spells before and Florida citrus crops have been destroyed, all in living memory, but long before AGW climate change was ‘to blame’.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      February 16, 2021 1:12 pm

      When I first visited Houston for work we had a week of freezing temperatures. This was December, so I had been looking forward to some winter sun on the side. There was a block in Downtown that had no buildings on it which was mainly used as a car park, but around Christmas they used to set up an outdoor ice rink there. That time they didn’t have to spend a great fortune on making the ice and keeping it cold. Nowhere near as cold as the present spell, but it was enough to see icicles hanging from trees and hoar frost. This time I suspect it will have been the indoor rink at the Galleria mall that is threatened with melting.

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        February 16, 2021 5:54 pm

        Perhaps I should add I think the following summer we had 2 months of daily 100F+ days. I was truly grateful for the outstanding A/C in the Buick I had on rental, which could achieve 70F in the 2 mins it took to get from the underground parking to the start of Memorial Drive. Though the suspension was like a boat.

  11. Gamecock permalink
    February 16, 2021 12:17 pm

    The New Normal™

  12. February 16, 2021 12:42 pm

    Local TV station confirmed that Texas grid ERCOT is importing

    @JasonWhitely MORE: @ERCOT_ISO, the power grid operator in Texas, said:
    “We are currently importing power from Mexico and the southwest power pool.”
    *BUT* that is happening bc of market prices & incentives right now
    – not bc of weather demand.

  13. February 16, 2021 1:16 pm

    I do not understand the media response to this as if freezing cold weather coming down the Panhandle is something new! yes of course the snow thing is not so common but it HAS happened before. I can remember being by a swimming pool in Dallas one November with the temp up in the 80’s and within half an hour the temperature had plummeted and kept on going till it was freezing. I suppose those who promote the religion cannot acknowledge “weather” or Dallas’s position exposed to them Canadian gusts but that is the difference between Houston and Dallas!

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      February 16, 2021 3:01 pm

      We’ll doubtless get the full lowdown later, but the TV station chatter was of record lows for a February day since 1899, but lower temperatures were seen in December, 1989. Has the climate changed in 30 years?

  14. chriskshaw permalink
    February 16, 2021 3:10 pm

    Am 30+ yrs in Houston and yes, we’ve had snow and ice before at this time of year, just very infrequently. This time is different, the temps are lower and the number of days higher. Homes here are not designed for this, most have poor insulation and single pane glass windows. People will be acting desperately even with the power on (just to maintain a given temp), with power off there will be some nasty stats…
    It is ironic that federal and state subsidies of the snow covered solar panels and the frozen turbine rotors amplified by state green regs and virtue signaling has seen the available base load shrink to levels where lives are at risk. I work for an oil company, sorry, former oil company now a virtue signaling green energy company, and I follow the true life cycle costs that are discussed on these pages and am frankly in disbelief that governments would put these types of costs, and health risks, on their people (for no obvious benefit). It is not a coincidence that the majority of fair, peer reviewed science papers that factually counter many of our orthodoxies, come from Indian and Chinese authors. Tthey do not suffer the same political risk that our science community endures.
    I sit here without power and without water despairing for what my countrymen have invited by their recent vote. God bless America if she survives this.

    • Robin Guenier permalink
      February 16, 2021 6:02 pm

      This is stuck in moderation. I’ll try again:

      I’m familiar with some Chinese studies that ‘factually counter many of our orthodoxies‘, but not with any by Indian authors. I’d be most interested to see a few examples. Thanks.

  15. Broadlands permalink
    February 16, 2021 5:16 pm

    “… ceiling fans to the winter setting by running them clockwise, to pull the warm air down.”

    And when the warm air hits your skin it acts to cool your skin. The fan won’t actually change the temperature of the room, it will just make it feel warmer. … You only need your fan on the lowest setting to get the benefit. Any higher and you might actually feel colder.
    Especially if there is no heat to pull down.

    • dave permalink
      February 17, 2021 8:53 am

      “…to pull the warm air down…”

      Surely that should be “push” ? I despair of any society rotted by such endemic sloppiness of thought.

      Perhaps it is inspired by the meme of “back radiation” ? Don’t worry, Texans! Your ceilings will warm you!

  16. It doesn't add up... permalink
    February 16, 2021 5:18 pm

    For some perspective I think it is worth noting that although the performance of wind has been particularly poor – just 4.2GW from 34GW of capacity according to a report I saw – this has not only been about the renewables failure.

    The Mayor of Houston revealed that one of the nuclear plants in the state had to shut down. I imagine that will have been due to issues over availability of cooling water. Water supply problems will have contributed to other outages too, including both gas and coal fired stations. There are widespread reports of low water pressure adding to the problems of power outage (and indeed party caused by power outage, since pumping depends on electricity, even if some of them are due to pipe bursts and freezing). The thaw will likely bring many pipe bursts.

    Gas supply has been insufficient to meet power station demand. This will in part be because of high demand by homes – there are plenty of reports of people using their gas stoves as a source of heat, even if they have no European style central heating. Pressures in pipelines are also lowered by the low temperatures (PV=nRT gas law), which means that flow rates drop unless extra compressors are available.

    There are reports of many power stations tripping out due to underfrequency. That is poor grid management by ERCOT. If they had been swift in cutting demand then frequency would have been maintained, and there would have been fewer power station trips and more power would have been able to stay on.

    Maintaining supply to essential demand has meant prolonged power cuts for many – not rotating blackouts. There’s a picture of downtown Houston all in lights taken from across a mostly dark city that has angered many.

    One of those buildings used to be Enron HQ…

    Those using their vehicles to provide a heated environment have been running risks: there is already a report of a mother and daughter dead from carbon monoxide poisoning. They are also running down their fuel tanks. Several refineries have shut down, and 1 mb/d of oil production has been lost (and doubtless a good chunk of gas production too, though I’ve not seen figures). There will be shortages of gasoline and diesel for a few days.

    Yesterday evening the grid was managing to supply about 50GW against demand of up to 72GW. Many plants will have been on winter turnaround, as demand is normally lower at this time of year compared with the peaks required to meet summer airconditioning. Supposedly some 75% of all generating plant was facing problems that led either to reduced output or complete shutdown. Normal capacity includes about 5GW of nuclear, and 88GW of fossil fuelled power.

    Whether it turns out that there have been transmission assets lost (transformers, power lines) due to overloading or icing bringing lines down remains largely unknown to news services.

    • February 16, 2021 8:10 pm

      4.3 GW of wind power is certainly not exceptionally low for ERCOT:

    • Chris Morris permalink
      February 16, 2021 11:18 pm

      The nuke went down because the pressure transmitting lines on one of the feed pumps froze. And it froze because they don’t build turbine halls over their turbine units. They believe they don’t need them because it is “warm” and dry. They are mistaking climate for weather.

  17. February 16, 2021 8:05 pm

    The ERCOT grid has had poor reliability for a long time, it may qualify as chief crash test dummy for wind power, sorry don’t recall the source of the following:

    • Duker permalink
      February 16, 2021 10:10 pm

      Reserve margins is a different thing to what ordinary people call ‘reliability’, they should just call it ‘reserve margins’.
      ERCOT is going to be different for reasons like the compactness of the grid area and so on and the regions with peaks are Quebec and Maritime which have access to very large hydro capacity which is sold to other regions

      • Hivemind permalink
        February 16, 2021 10:35 pm

        It’s a mistake to treat hydro as another renewable source, because it’s dispatch-able, whereas wind & solar are out of our control.

      • February 17, 2021 2:04 am


        Yes. Thank you for writing that. Hydro is proven technology. Also, I’ve seen where in some tallies it’s listed separately from the faux_green garbage, so you’re in good company.

    • February 17, 2021 2:14 am


      here’s the link

      Not very helpful to understand how wind contributes to issues, unless I misread it. (I’m no fan of wind, either)

  18. Iain permalink
    February 16, 2021 10:43 pm

    meanwhile Greece is in the grip of global warming:

  19. February 16, 2021 11:17 pm

    The great Tucker Carlson video as mentioned above by Andreh

    • Gas Geezer permalink
      February 18, 2021 12:18 am

      Would be great to get someone like Tucker on our TV’s.

  20. John Wilson permalink
    February 17, 2021 1:30 am

    If there is any lesson to be learned from the “freezing Texas” situation it is the stupidity of ever relying on renewable energy. Only fossil fuels have the dependability necessary to meet sudden demand issues. Another example is the present predicament of Germany when the wind does not blow and the sun does not shine. Stupid, stupid, global warmists !!!

  21. February 17, 2021 1:48 am

    “Don’t mess with Texas!”

    They seem to be doing fine all on their own

  22. Micky R permalink
    February 17, 2021 7:30 am

    Would be interesting to model the current situation using coal / nuclear for base load.
    Surprising to read that the “South Texas Project” nuclear power station does indeed have turbines exposed to the elements

    which is surprising to read! Who designed that?!

  23. EyeSee permalink
    February 17, 2021 8:39 am

    ‘Rotating outages’ Ha ha! Is that when a wind turbine stops turning?

  24. Gamecock permalink
    February 17, 2021 1:34 pm

    Another lesson to be learned from the “freezing Texas” is the foolishness of “storage.”

    The current mass outage is going to be for at least 3 days, perhaps longer.

    It’s not conceivable to build enough storage to cover this outage.

    “What about Texas in February 2021?” should be the response to any suggestion that storage can fix intermittency.

    • Micky R permalink
      February 17, 2021 3:06 pm

      Coal and nuclear for robust and reliable baseload, everything else is too vulnerable.

      • Gamecock permalink
        February 17, 2021 3:42 pm

        Correct. Weather dependent generation can only be supplemental.

  25. It doesn't add up... permalink
    February 17, 2021 2:17 pm

    Generation in ERCOT over recent days puts the contributions of sources into perspective

  26. February 17, 2021 2:46 pm

    Egg on many faces in the US electricity industry, here is a report of NERC claiming that there will be no problems this winter, I wonder if NERC does highly favourable modelling for wind power, in the same way as National Grid:

    • Gamecock permalink
      February 17, 2021 7:14 pm

      I tend to forgive the US electricity industry. Much of what they do is compelled by state legislatures.

  27. Broadlands permalink
    February 17, 2021 5:04 pm

    But, of course it’s an opinion that it is all the result of AGW…too much CO2!

  28. GeoffB permalink
    February 17, 2021 5:35 pm

    Todays quote from New York times,,climate change gets the blame…

    The crisis highlighted a deeper warning for power systems throughout the country. Electric grids can be engineered to handle a wide range of severe conditions — as long as grid operators can reliably predict the dangers ahead. But as climate change accelerates, many electric grids will face novel and extreme weather events that go beyond the historical conditions those grids were designed for, putting the systems at risk of catastrophic failure.

    • Gas Geezer permalink
      February 18, 2021 12:32 am

      I get the New York Times reasoning ,their logic is if we stop climate change by banning fossil fuels, blackouts would not happen. Makes sense .

  29. matt dalby permalink
    February 18, 2021 1:21 am

    Maybe Texans should follow recent advice from PHE.
    This link may land you on their homepage, if so go to about us then authors and select John Ellwood to find the article. Well worth the trouble as it is brilliant satire.

  30. It doesn't add up... permalink
    February 18, 2021 11:19 am

    National Grid’s Winter Outlook was a real work of fiction.


  1. Texas ‘Deep Freeze’: Urgent Climate Warning but Not How You Think: F. William Engdahl – Abrupt Earth Changes

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