The stars at night are real bright when there's no light deep in the heart of Texas.

crimson5pheonix

It took 6 months to read my title.
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With the sudden cold snap, Texas has been hit especially hard. Most of Texas is on it's own power grid, separate from the two major grids in the continental US and the Texas grid is overseen by ERCOT, the governing body of Texas that's supposed to keep the electricity flowing. Well as you might expect, sudden all-time record lows across the whole state has put a lot of strain on the energy grid, so much so that there's been a ~34 gigawatt shortfall in production resulting in massive blackouts across the whole state.


Early reports touted frozen windmills as the culprit, but if every windmill was operating at 100% capacity, it wouldn't even be that much, and in fact the most disparaging numbers I could find pegged wind at a 4 gigawatt shortfall compared to where it should be at this time of year. Instead the massive shortfall is coming from coal, nuclear, and especially natural gas. Natural gas being the biggest source of energy in Texas by a fairly wide margin, a couple of factors have caused it to crumble. For one the freeze has closed off gas pipelines, rather like the windmills getting frozen over. But the much larger factor is that with the cold snap everyone started buying up gas for heating, leaving none for the state or energy companies, and our governor didn't think to buy any before the cold snap hit.


The result has been what ERCOT is calling rolling blackouts, but they didn't even get that right. Millions of Texans haven't had electricity all day when temperatures have gone to single digit Fahrenheit (negative Celsius) and largely stayed there. Meanwhile millions of other Texans haven't had their electricity turned off at all, and many empty business districts have remained lit up, across the street from blacked out houses. As an extra kick in the teeth, the energy companies have sent out messages (many to people who haven't had electricity for 16+ hours) to conserve energy. And finally, since it's Texas and it doesn't have infrastructure for dealing with snow and ice, the roads are all frozen over, nobody had snow tires or equivalents, nobody knows how to drive in these conditions, so trying to go to somewhere with power is ridiculously dangerous and there's already been a 100 car pileup with fatalities because of this storm.

And even if they could.

 
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Worgen

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Whatever, just wash your hands.
I've been lucky and have full power but my folks have been without power since 2am on the 15th.
 
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TheMysteriousGX

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If you're wondering why neighboring states can't just pipe power in because the lines are still in relatively good shape and it's generation that's the problem, the answer is stereotypically Texas: They can't.

Texas has an isolated energy grid for stupid Independent Texas reasons. Like, if this happened in Montana, and, say, the rivers froze so bad we couldn't use our huge amounts of hydro power, we could theoretically import power from Alberta or Idaho or Wyoming or whatever. (I mean, we probably couldn't because we export as much power as we use, so there'd probably not be much we could import, but the physics are sound)

Texas, for the same reason as I hate Texas, decided it was better off with its own power grid, which is free from federal regulation because it basically doesn't have an interstate connection. https://www.texastribune.org/2011/02/08/texplainer-why-does-texas-have-its-own-power-grid/
So they can't import power on any useful scale.
 
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crimson5pheonix

It took 6 months to read my title.
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If you're wondering why neighboring states can't just pipe power in because the lines are still in relatively good shape and it's generation that's the problem, the answer is stereotypically Texas: They can't.

Texas has an isolated energy grid for stupid Independent Texas reasons. Like, if this happened in Montana, and, say, the rivers froze so bad we couldn't use our huge amounts of hydro power, we could theoretically import power from Alberta or Idaho or Wyoming or whatever. (I mean, we probably couldn't because we export as much power as we use, so there'd probably not be much we could import, but the physics are sound)

Texas, for the same reason as I hate Texas, decided it was better off with its own power grid, which is free from federal regulation because it basically doesn't have an interstate connection. https://www.texastribune.org/2011/02/08/texplainer-why-does-texas-have-its-own-power-grid/
So they can't import power on any useful scale.
That's right pard'ner, you keep yer filthy government hands off our power, we don't let no government touch it! We do it so hard that even the government we let touch our power doesn't touch our power! That's why our infrastructure is so out of date!
 
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Thaluikhain

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Massive blackouts in winter in a place that gets below 0 Celsius? Going to find a lot of frozen bodies in a week or two?
 

XsjadoBlayde

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Freedoms are colder than anticipated. Must wrap in double layered flag while licking the barrel of a recently fired gun.
 

Agema

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Massive blackouts in winter in a place that gets below 0 Celsius? Going to find a lot of frozen bodies in a week or two?
Tragically, quite likely.

But then, maybe the tree of freedom sometimes has to be watered with the frozen corpses of hypothermia victims.
 
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tippy2k2

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I've had my furnace implode on me (twice!) so I'm well aware of how absolute shit it is during winter to lose your heat. Luckily as a cold blooded Minnesotan, I merely let my body temperature change me into a White Walker so the cold was fine but hopefully Texas gets their shit together quickly...

Also as required by my lefty contract, look, it's our friend Capitalism! Gotta make sure you keep businesses powered on, wouldn't want to risk them potentially losing a single sale even though nothing is open to sell things...
 

Worgen

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Whatever, just wash your hands.
Also as required by my lefty contract, look, it's our friend Capitalism! Gotta make sure you keep businesses powered on, wouldn't want to risk them potentially losing a single sale even though nothing is open to sell things...
Its fun to think that but really the blackouts around here seem to have more to do with important infrastructure on the local grid. Like I have power but the shopping center that is across the street is one of those that is down.
 

Chimpzy

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Tragically, quite likely.
I suppose the homeless would be most at risk. From what I can tell Texas has a relatively small percentage of homelessness compared to many other states. Still some 26k people in total. Tho of course the situation extends beyond just the homeless.

But then, maybe the tree of freedom sometimes has to be watered with the frozen corpses of hypothermia victims.
They will be fine if they do bootstrap pull-ups to stay warm.
 
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BrawlMan

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If you're wondering why neighboring states can't just pipe power in because the lines are still in relatively good shape and it's generation that's the problem, the answer is stereotypically Texas: They can't.

Texas has an isolated energy grid for stupid Independent Texas reasons. Like, if this happened in Montana, and, say, the rivers froze so bad we couldn't use our huge amounts of hydro power, we could theoretically import power from Alberta or Idaho or Wyoming or whatever. (I mean, we probably couldn't because we export as much power as we use, so there'd probably not be much we could import, but the physics are sound)

Texas, for the same reason as I hate Texas, decided it was better off with its own power grid, which is free from federal regulation because it basically doesn't have an interstate connection. https://www.texastribune.org/2011/02/08/texplainer-why-does-texas-have-its-own-power-grid/
So they can't import power on any useful scale.
The ones in charge are really stupid and prideful. Then again, Texas. They take that lone star shit way too far. I feel bad for the citizens going through bullshit, because of high incompetence.
 
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Chimpzy

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Would they not be at risk regardless of whether or not the power was on, though?
Now that you mention it, yes, that is true. Homeless freezing on park bench or somesuch is not unusual unfortunately, including in places where cold weather is common. One could argue they should make use of shelters, but that is of little import if you never make it there:
There is still the matter of a pandemic to consider, tho the choice between nigh assured and merely potential death seems an obvious one, as some shelters evidently agree.
 
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Baffle

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Would they not be at risk regardless of whether or not the power was on, though?
In the UK we have the Severe Weather Emergency Protocol when temperature drops too low, which I think gives local authorities more freedom to help homeless people (though it seems that's not something that should be limited by law, so maybe it grants them the funding to do it?) in terms of providing temporary shelter. But if the power's out, the power's out.

Edit: just checked, seems it's a 'local authority should do this, not must do this' thing.
 

Agema

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I suppose the homeless would be most at risk.
Possibly; them or the elderly, who are much more vulnerable to hypothermia.

Edit: just checked, seems it's a 'local authority should do this, not must do this' thing.
Mm. I think we know how that one ends up in the age of Tory austerity.
 

The Rogue Wolf

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"I'm sure that my fellow red-blooded, freedom-loving, God-fearing Texans would rather slowly die from exposure than let filthy communist liberal NORTHERN electricity warm their homes!" - some rich asshole in a cowboy hat, probably
 
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Baffle

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Mm. I think we know how that one ends up in the age of Tory austerity.
I'm in the so-called Red Wall, and it does get enacted here, but I don't know how successful it is. Homeless pop. in Newcastle seems to have grown a lot in the last ten years.
 

Agema

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I'm in the so-called Red Wall, and it does get enacted here, but I don't know how successful it is. Homeless pop. in Newcastle seems to have grown a lot in the last ten years.
Same where I live. Local council funding cuts annihilated the accommodation support. Major cities often get hit hard because they tend to have more support services and footfall to beg from, so they can pick up quite a bit of homeless from neighbouring towns, too. I have no idea whether they enact it. The council might be borderline bankrupt, but my perception is that it at least tries.