Texas ERCOT power shortages (again) April 13

Patrick W. Gilmore patrick at ianai.net
Wed Apr 14 15:12:05 UTC 2021


The idea that because ERCOT is a non-profit somehow means they would never do anything to save money, or management is not granted bonuses or salary increases based on savings, or have no financial incentive is ridiculous. E.g. Salaries for the top ERCOT executives increased 50% from 2012 to 2019. “Just pointing out facts.” 

Also, green vs. traditional has little to do with why ERCOT had problems. It is undisputed that ERCOT failed in 2011, was handed a report by the feds showing why they failed and how to fix it, yet ERCOT did not require suppliers to enact those fixes. Those actions had a direct, operational effect on the Internet. And as such, seem perfectly on-topic for NANOG.

Why that happened may still be on topic. For instance, you state correctly that ERCOT is a non-profit (although you and I disagree on precisely how that affects things). But the suppliers are not. Are we 1000000% certain the CEO’s salary jumping far far far far far faster than inflation had nothing to do with protecting the suppliers’ profits? I am not. However, that question is only tenuously operational.

Bringing it back to the topic on hand: How do we keep the grid up? Or plan for it not being up? Simply saying “green power is unreliable” is not an answer when many RFPs at least ask what percentage of your power is green, or flat out require at least some of your production be green. Making a blanket statement that “XXX is a non-profit” does not absolve them from poor business practices, which at least saves the non-profit money and frequently results in profits outside that entity. Etc.


> On Apr 14, 2021, at 10:00, Brian Johnson <brian.johnson at netgeek.us> wrote:
> There is no profit motive for a non-profit company. It’s completely relevant to your response.
> For profit companies have similar issues with power generation and maintenance as the way power is generated requires maintenance. No power system is generating at 100% of capability at any single point. Your assumptions of neglect, poor maintenance and failing to learn are subterfuge. Traditional methods are more reliable (so far) than the newer “green” methods.
> Just pointing out facts.
>> On Apr 14, 2021, at 8:26 AM, Tom Beecher <beecher at beecher.cc> wrote:
>> Brian-
>> I am aware. That's also not relevant at all to the point. 
>>> On Wed, Apr 14, 2021 at 9:22 AM Brian Johnson <brian.johnson at netgeek.us> wrote:
>>> Tom,
>>> You do realize that ERCOT is a non-profit organization….
>>>> On Apr 14, 2021, at 8:04 AM, Tom Beecher <beecher at beecher.cc> wrote:
>>>> > Funny how this obsession with a green grid has made the grid
>>>> > unreliable, resulting in sales of gas-burning generators and
>>>> > perishable fuel.  Dare I say it's not been worth it?
>>>> Yes, desire for renewable power sources is totally the reason that power generators neglect proper preventative maintenance and adoption of lessons learned during past problem periods. It absolutely has nothing to do with profit being the most important thing ever. Right? 
>>>>> On Wed, Apr 14, 2021 at 8:48 AM Mark Tinka <mark at tinka.africa> wrote:
>>>>> On 4/14/21 13:35, Billy Croan wrote:
>>>>> > Sounds like we all need to start keeping a few days reserve of energy 
>>>>> > on hand at home now because the utilities can't be trusted to keep 
>>>>> > their system online in 2021.
>>>>> It just makes sense to plan along those lines, really. Despite popular 
>>>>> belief, power companies are preferring energy conservation from their 
>>>>> customers more than they do sales, because they just can't keep throwing 
>>>>> up new coal-fired or nuclear power stations a la the days of old (anyone 
>>>>> remember the 1973 and 1979 oil crises?)
>>>>> Most people would assume that power companies want to sell more 
>>>>> electricity so they can make more money, but they dread the days when 
>>>>> the network is brought to its knees, even if the revenue will climb. So 
>>>>> between asking customers to save more on energy + being able to rely 
>>>>> less on fossil fuels for generation, one needs to consider their 
>>>>> personal energy security over the long term, fully or partially 
>>>>> independent of the traditional grid.
>>>>> > Funny how this obsession with a green grid has made the grid 
>>>>> > unreliable, resulting in sales of gas-burning generators and 
>>>>> > perishable fuel.  Dare I say it's not been worth it?
>>>>> I wouldn't say that the obsession is without merit. It's just that 
>>>>> regular folk are only seeking the solution from one perspective - that 
>>>>> of the power generators. If folk (and that includes the gubbermints) met 
>>>>> the power companies half way, renewables would make a lot more sense, 
>>>>> more quickly. But as I said before, when we flick the switch, it must 
>>>>> turn on. End of. And then we revert to demanding power companies to 
>>>>> embrace the additional revenue, or fulfill their mandate to deliver a 
>>>>> basic, life-sustaining utility, no matter what.
>>>>> Unfortunately, there really hasn't been sufficient education to regular 
>>>>> folk about what it takes to generate electricity reliably, no matter the 
>>>>> season. And yet, there is far more education out there about the 
>>>>> benefits of conserving it, and preserving the earth. So the view is not 
>>>>> balanced, and power companies as well as oil producers will knee-jerk to 
>>>>> either justify or distance themselves, rather than encourage a fair, 
>>>>> practical engagement. In the end, he that feels the most pressure, 
>>>>> caves... and this can go either way depending on which side of the 
>>>>> economic development curve you are sitting.
>>>>> >
>>>>> > Nuclear and hydro were the only reasonable obvious choices and 
>>>>> > ecological paralysis hamstrings those as well.
>>>>> Ultimately, no target toward zero emissions is complete without some 
>>>>> kind of nuclear and/or hydro. Especially as a solution for peak demand, 
>>>>> (pumped) hydro will continue to be the most efficient option, if folk 
>>>>> are interested in keeping the lights on at 7:45PM on a wintery Tuesday 
>>>>> night.
>>>>> >
>>>>> > Now is the time to speak the message.  Write your elected 
>>>>> > representatives. Talk to your families and friends about energy.  
>>>>> > Change minds.
>>>>> There is room for co-existence, I think. But the honest discussions need 
>>>>> to be had, and not the glossy wish list that should be fixed by someone 
>>>>> else, because we are just citizens minding our own business.
>>>>> Mark.
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