Texas internet connectivity declining due to blackouts

Brett Frankenberger rbf+nanog at panix.com
Tue Feb 16 23:46:49 UTC 2021

On Tue, Feb 16, 2021 at 08:02:38AM +0200, Mark Tinka wrote:
> On 2/16/21 07:49, Matthew Petach wrote:
> > Isn't that a result of ERCOT stubbornly refusing to interconnect with
> > the rest of the national grid, out of an irrational fear of coming under
> > federal regulation?
> > 
> > I suspect that trying to be self-sufficient works most of the time--but
> > when you get to the edges of the bell curve locally, your ability to be
> > resilient and survive depends heavily upon your ability to be supported
> > by others around you.  This certainly holds true for individual humans;
> > I suspect power grids aren't that different.
> If there was a state-wide blackout, they'd need to restart from the national
> grid anyway. 

The Texas Grid has black-start capability.  In the event of a
state-wide blackout, they would not restart from the Eastern or Western
US Grid.

> Why not have some standing interconnection agreement with them
> anyway, that gets activated in cases such as these?

They have 820MW of interconnection with the Eastern Interconnect (the
Eastern US grid).  During most of this, it's been moving nearly 820MW
into Texas.  (Three were power shortages and rolling blackouts in
portions of the Eastern Interconnect also, although for much shorter
windows of time.  During those times, less power was flowing into
Texas, presumably because the Eastern Interconnect didn't have it
available (in the right places).)

Connections are more expensive that just a transmission line, because
you have to go AC-DC-AC (or have a rotary frequency converter).

> Sorry, unfamiliar with U.S. politics in this regard, so just doing 1+1.

Three grids, Western, Eastern, and Texas.  A GW or so of DC ties
between the Eastern and Western; nothing between the Western and Texas
(directly), and, as noted above, 880MW between the Eastern and Texas. 
(Very roughly, that's 2% of peak demand for the Texas grid.)

Eastern and Western exist largely for technical reasons (too big to
keep synchronized, at least without building a lot more ties between
them).  Texas is independent largely for political reasons.

     -- Brett

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