Understanding why the power grid failed in the Texas-Oklahoma region


Due to the extremely cold weather, the states of Texas and Oklahoma are in a power crisis, leaving millions of people without power. Why is it happening?

“What we have seen in the Texas-Oklahoma region is two things happened. Wind and solar haven’t worked since it got extremely cold. Wind turbines froze up and solar panels get covered with snow,” Spire Missouri President Scott Carter said. “The natural gas wells that produce natural gas will do what they call freezing up and they won’t produce natural gas.”

Spire used to use a natural gas pipeline that tapped into sources from the southern region. In 2018, they started building a different pipeline that went north and east and lets them pull from different supply bases.

“What the STL Spire pipeline did was allow us to go north and interconnect with the Rockies Interconnect Pipeline and that pipeline runs east and west over to the Rockies and over into the Mid-Atlantic area,” Carter said.

Thanks to the new pipeline, which was finished in November 2019, Spire has not had any problems getting natural gas to our region and it’s helping keep customers’ bills down.

Texas relies heavily on natural gas energy to power electric. When those wells froze, they didn’t have many other options.

Kevin Anders, Ameren Missouri’s vice president of operations and technical services, said that’s not the case here. Ameren has a broad generation portfolio.

“We have a lot of different technologies so if any one—whether it is wind or solar or hydro or natural gas or coal—is exposed or not operating as well as it could, we have a number of different other ones that are available to us,” he said. “We are not concentrated in any one of those technologies that are exposed to being short on generation.

Anders said Kansas City is on the same regional transmission grid as Texas and Oklahoma, so they are feeling the effects of what’s happening there.

For a few days, Ameren Missouri was watching the voltage numbers and preparing for a rolling blackout if needed. But on Monday, they asked customers to conserve energy and customers responded. Ameren is asking customers to continue to conserve through Friday.

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