The Texas 2022 Winter of Our Discontent Watch Thread

Not just for Texans–anyone is welcome to post. This is a thread to collect news items, personal experiences, observations, predictions, etc. re the power grid situation in Texas in the next couple of months. Share stories from last winter, if you’re inclined to.

Here’s some background in case you didn’t experience it for yourself:

Here’s a snapshot of the outages in the middle of the crisis.




As for right now, Jan 19, in San Antonio, we’re expecting 20s and freezing rain for the next two days. So far this winter, we’ve only had a few hours of freezing temps, and really, it’s been springlike for the past week. Highs in the upper 70s, blue sky, perfect weather.

We keep getting emails from the local utility, City Public Service, alerting us to the possibility of power outages and assuring us how much they care. Yeah, that’s a real comfort. :roll_eyes:

My landlord and I each now have generators as backup if we have another mass outage. They can be connected to the house’s natural gas supply. (I have a gas stove and hot water heater.) I don’t need everything on 24/7, just the fridge, one electric space heater, a couple of lamps, and a live plug where I can charge my phone. I had two 12-hour stretches with no power (no heat, no lights). It was an utterly miserable experience, being all alone here in the cold and dark. Friends told me how their whole family huddled in one room with the pets… no such luck for me. I have been stockpiling (somewhat) bottled water.

We don’t get many power outages. It’s usually a tree falling on a power line.

The last time was about 6 hours. But we have a propane stove for our primary heat, so no problem there. And it put’s out a lot of light. Also, we have oil lamps that are decorative and functional. So heat and light is not an issue.

My Wife and I are also rabid chess and cribbage players. So entertainment is not an issue.

We are on a well, so once the pressure tank is empty, that could be an issue. But we have a small stream that flows year round, so I can get water to flush toilets if I needed to for a long outage. Suppose we could boil it on propane/heat stove if drinking water became an issue.

We have 4 rechargeable batteries that all have USB ports, so we can keep our phones and Kindles charged if need be.

Most of these ‘preparations’ are really just the way it is where we live. We do depend heavily on electricity, but having it go out for 24 hours or so, while it would suck, wouldn’t really be a problem.

Are you in Texas?

Tell me more about these batteries. I need some.

Not in Texas. High up in the Colorado Mountains. Not close to town.

My Wife and I each have one of these in our cars. They can jump start a car if the cars battery is NOT totally dead. They (at least ours) came with USB cords for phones and stuff.

We also have two Yoobao rechargeable batteries that we sometimes use for phones and stuff. Very handy to throw in your bag for a quick trip where you don’t really know the status of charging your stuff.

Chargers that we use for phones when no outlet is convenient.

I can highly recommend Goal Zero products (“We Make Portable Power Solutions Designed To Improve The Human Experience”). Solar panels, power stations, batteries, lights, etc.

https://www.goalzero.com

I keep a small solar panel (and USB cables, etc.) in my car, as well as a jump pack like enipla’s.

Good luck to you and everyone else in Texas; I hope you don’t need it, tho.

Thanks. I need one of those just for good mojo. I had this one on my amazon wish list. It’s more (and more expensive) than the one you linked to. But I have a bazillion amazon rewards points, so I think I’ll order that baby.

I would recommend getting one that has a high capacity, like the one @enipla linked to. Also something like this would work well:

I bought one of these several months ago for camping and am happy with it, the solar panels actually do work to charge the battery (although they are much slower than plugging it in). I plan on purchasing some more to have on hand for emergency backup charging:

The high capacity ones seemingly take forever to charge (like, a couple of days) but once they are charged they’ll hold it for several months. The problem with the “slim” ones are that they don’t have a lot of capacity so won’t provide multiple charges – or in the case of one little one that I have, won’t fully charge my phone at all.

Good advice! Thanks.

Thanks for the tread, ThelmaLou.

I’ve seen a variety of news stories with various official-looking people claiming all is well with the grid. Each seems to report some sort of meeting, or agreement, or inspection which should assure us the power generation folks are spiffed up and gosh-durned ready this time. But not a single news story has mentioned what actual, physical changes have been made to wells, pumps, gas lines, etc. It’s as though Greg’s Minions showed each other some clever Power Point presentations and they all agreed it’s fixed.

But fixed what? Have they insulated the origin gas wells that failed last time? Do they have another source of power for the stations that lost natural gas, or those that generated power but depended on the state grid for their own control systems? And what about the windmills? Can we be certain they won’t run rogue and blow Ted Cruz’ plane off course to the Caribbean again, leaving us adrift and leaderless? (Maybe I misunderstood the problem last year, but I know it had something to do with commie windmills).

As for us, we were well-prepared as usual, but found flaws in our planning which needed correction. The shed where our backup water was stored had never frozen in the 29 years we’ve lived here. But it did this time, and we lost half of our water supply. Also, we were not prepared for the difficulty in two old people (one very ill and the other recovering from surgery) trying to move a 200lb generator out onto the driveway, hoist gas cans to fuel it, and start it. Thirdly, we were too dependent on generator-supplied electrical power for emergency heating. Fourthly, we were in no shape to heave a garage door up when the opener was without power. To be blunt, we were prepared for A or B or C to fail, but not for A and B and C to fail all at once.

So I spent most of this year correcting this. We have a new, semi-permanent, 12KW generator which runs on propane, with a 50A connector/transfer switch. We have installed large enough propane tanks to run it (conservatively) for about 16-20 days. The old, smaller generator is still ready as a backup-backup, and we have enough fuel to run for about 20-30 hours (along with connectors to adapt to the new switches). We also have portable propane (indoor safe) heaters along with the connectors and hoses to run from grill-sized tanks, or they can be connected to the little camping (1lb) for portability. We have enough to run these about 400 hours separate from the main generator tanks. We moved the water storage inside the garage, and into sturdier agri-tanks mounted higher on blocks (so we can easily fill buckets from the spigots). We insulated the garage and door to protect this supply. Also have two demand pumps (one 115V, one 12V) to transfer the water at low pressure to sinks/toilets/etc. We added two separate propane stoves (3 burners total) so we can cook directly from propane if we don’t want to run the gennie. We added backup batteries which automatically charge from either solar or grid to run: Garage door, Auto gate, and CPAP machine. I also installed emergency lighting in 5 different spots in the house, so we can safely move about if we lose power after dark. And we now take the house “off-grid” once a month to exercise the generators, and insure everything else works and is fresh and potable.

The message in all this is either: “One should always be prepared.” or “Never let a retired engineer get bored while stuck at home during a pandemic.” :smile:

Why wouldn’t you believe them?

From all available evidence, City of San Antonio actually does care, at least more than most municipalities in the state.

The city owned CPS has been among the few power companies trying to get the state to take some responsibility for the winter storm and to future proof. They’ve taken a lot of heat, not all of it deserved, by people who can’t take it out on ERCOT or Abbott or anybody else.

As for me, I was seriously considering solar + battery this year, along with some maintenance/updating to the house wiring but supply chain hits us all. I have little confidence in our grid. It fails when it gets cold. It fails when it gets hot. It never fails to make money for a few well connected companies and their executives. We weathered the storm ok. Not preppers but just generally well provisioned even for 2-3 days without power in freezing temperatures, which is what happened (~60 hours in my case).

ETA: There was a pretty decent article in Texas Monthly this month on the topic. Naturally, since it’s been almost a year since, and there’s been no action at the state level to prevent it from happening again.

I lived in a rural area of SE Texas for 5 years and had experience with at least a couple bouts of miserable (for that area) winter weather without blackouts. Last year’s frigid outbreak really was an anomaly that shouldn’t be repeated any time soon. And that’s where the danger lies - a smug assumption that it won’t happen again so no worries…

What’s needed* is another semi-disaster to really spur changes needed for a permanent fix, the kind that apparently haven’t occurred yet in Texas.

*yeah, easy for me to say, as I don’t live there any more.
**my sister-in-law and brother were recently without power and water for 3 days after a moderately bad winter storm in Virginia. Haven’t heard that they plan to get a generator (it was far from their first rodeo), because as my sister-in-law once said, “we shouldn’t have to.”

I am dazzled! :star_struck:

I believe they care. I don’t blame them for what happened last year. But as my mother used to say, “Sorry doesn’t feed the Admiral’s cat.”

I don’t live in Texas but perhaps it’s time to publicly advertise my feelings about ERCOT.

A nearby Weather Underground station hit 54° today and the temperature is supposed to steadily drop until 8:00 Friday morning with rain changing to snow tomorrow morning.

Another nor’easter is expected Saturday; last I heard, it could be a snow-making event like the one that stranded all those people on 95 or it could be virtually nothing. All depends on the storm’s track and how far offshore it goes. At least it should be too cold to rain.

Local weatherman here in SA said it won’t be like last year’s event and no need to stockpile the toilet paper. Definitely hearing the wind picking up.

Got this email from City Public Service this evening. I do appreciate these. The outage map linked to at the end is fantastic. You can tell at a glance how many people are without power in different areas, and the map is updated in real time.

According to the National Weather Service, a cold front is anticipated to enter Greater San Antonio tonight, bringing with it the possibility of rain or sleet Thursday. CPS Energy understands the community concern for winter weather. However, freezing temperatures are not expected to be prolonged and uninterrupted like they were during Winter Storm Uri. Energy demand is not expected to exceed supply and result in outages and we are prepared for this cold front.

CPS Energy is monitoring weather conditions closely. Crews are prepared to respond quickly and safely to any outages resulting from wind or other equipment damage.

Charge devices in advance and be ready to put personal emergency plans in action should an outage occur, especially if medical equipment is used in your home. Customers with medical equipment are encouraged to sign up for our critical care program on our website.

We encourage customers to review the winter safety tips on our website.

Stay informed of local outages by visiting the CPS Energy outage map at http://outagemap.cpsenergy.com.

This thing that is blowing in right not will not be a problem.

And right on cue, with the first major freeze hitting the state, a major pipeline company is threatening to cut off natural gas to the state’s largest power generator over a financial dispute.

This is just how the free market works, right? I assume that good Texas Republicans will oppose any socialist attempt to intervene in a private business matter and let their constituents freeze to death as heroic martyrs to the defense of our beloved capitalism.

Just a reminder to check/charge those backup batteries every so often, backup batteries don’t do any good if they’re low/dead themselves.