Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Reconsidering The February Texas Power Catastrophe

National Weather Service Winter Storm Warnings in
Pink on February 14, 2021
Another report and recommendations are out (there have been several) pertaining to how to prevent another meltdown of the Texas electric grid. It is here. The report is creative and well-done. I believe it is the best, so far. 

However, there is one recommendation with which I disagree:

Recommendation 4-3—Acknowledge changing extreme weather threats

The SB3 requirement that Texas agencies consider weather predictions from the State Climatologist is a good start, but the magnitude of climate threats requires us to do better.  The Legislature should require the PUCT, RRC and utilities to use forward-looking 30-year climate and extreme weather projections in combination with the worst past extreme weather and grid disaster events over a 50-year history in all planning scenarios and electricity asset reasonableness and prudence evaluations.

There are two real problems with this recommendation:
  • The 30-day forecasts for February, 2021, were lousy. That should reinforce the fact we have no way to forecast the weather 1, 5 or 30 years into the future! No way. 
  • The recommended pie-in-the-sky weather forecast strategy deflects from the fact that the 7-day weather forecasts for the February cold wave were excellent. The problem was they were not sufficiently acted upon. 
Take a look at this graphic with all of the Austin (the city most affected) daily temperatures for 2019, 2020, and 2021 until mid-May. Click to enlarge.
The green background is the "normal" daily range. If the climate had changed, far more temperatures would be well outside of that range than actually are. They aren't. To claim global warming caused the four-day event is ludicrous. 

The 'leadership' of American society needs to stop blaming global warming for every failure. 

Yes, the Texas grid and contingency plans need to be made more robust. Yes, weather needs to be factored into far more industries and businesses than is currently the case. But, trying to forecast the weather a quarter-century from now is a recipe for another failure. 

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