Power, gas, and water failure in Texas

By Engr. Edgar Mana-ay


Last February 17 to 23, more than 4 million Texans, including 1.4 million in the Houston area, suffered a massive electrical grid failure in the face of a historically brutal snowstorm with temperature averaging minus 20 degrees Centigrade.

This was the worst power crisis in a decade. An estimated 34,000 megawatts of power generation – more than a third of the system’s total generating capacity (100,000 MW) had been knocked offline by the extreme winter weather amid soaring demands as residents cranked up heating systems resulting in a rolling blackout. The home that I was staying in Houston had no electricity, gas and water for SIX CONSECUTIVE DAYS.

Here at home in Pavia, that situation will not cause much concern because I have my open well where I can have potable water using a pail or “timba” plus a second source from a tasok with a hand-operated pitcher pump. I also have a dirty kitchen in a small hut outside the house where I have stacked firewood for cooking. Houston like any large metropolitan city, people suffer if electric, gas and water are cut off because there are simply NO alternatives to replace them.


Unlike in the Philippines where electric power supply has a common national grid or distribution system (excess power in Leyte or Cebu can be delivered by NGCP to Iloilo or Luzon), Texas power system is independent from the rest of the U.S.

Texans are proud of this energy independence because it holds one-third of oil, gas and coal energy resources of the country. In the port of Houston which is about 30 km. long, an average of 60 tankers and tug boats brings out DAILY crude oil, finished petroleum products, natural gas and petroleum-based chemicals such as propane, polyethylene for delivery to other countries. I know this for a fact because my son is one of the many Process and Safety Auditors (mostly experienced ex-tanker officers) that the government requires for each tanker or barge that is loading or unloading at the Houston port.

Despite all this wealth and advance infrastructure (there are at least six or seven large, multi-national oil refineries along the Houston Port), WHY did Texas revert to the Middle Ages for 7 days without power, gas for cooking and heating and water for household use most needed during a severe arctic cold blast.

Because of the pressure from the GREEN brain of Obama and its GREEN mafia activists, Texas was forced to diversify its energy sources so that 20 PERCENT of its power sources come from wind turbines and solar panels DESPITE the fact that Texas is practically floating on gas and oil. Both renewable energy sources became inutile as the wind turbine were frozen by the arctic cold blast and the solar panels were covered by snow! Batteries that stored power from solar and wind were frozen, and most lost 60% of their efficiency because of the cold. BOTTOM LINE: RENEWABLES DON’T WORK WELL IN EXTREME WEATHER AND NEVER WILL ASIDE FROM BEING MORE EXPENSIVE THAN GAS!

During these times of frigid temperatures, demand for electric and gas power increases by 50% primarily for heating purposes. Any engineer will tell you that electric heating and cooking is a voracious consumer of electricity. The grid which is NOW down by 20 percent and the remaining 5% nuclear and 75% natural gas component will now have to serve an increased demand of 50%, hence a massive grid failure occurred.

The much-touted and boasted renewable energy source for Texas in the form of over-subsidized wind and solar is now totally discredited, tarnished and impotent during the Texas severe snowstorm. Another stupid pressure exerted by the green activists during the Obama administration is to LOWER the cost of power to a point that the power generators cannot anymore have the extra money to invest for additional capacity to have enough baseload energy for a massive spike in demand. For more than a decade, power generators have not been able to charge what it costs them to produce electricity. If you don’t make a return on your money, how can you keep it up? It limped along on underinvestment and neglect until it finally broke down under predictable circumstances.

The energy disaster in Texas proved the need to rely solely on fossil fuels (oil, natural gas and coal) in the future. It was natural gas that saved Texas from total freeze. If Texas had followed Obama and his green and stupid cohorts to increase renewables to 60% to “reduce emission”, then the sufferings of the Texans could have been worse. And more bad news: the new puppet of the green, Pres. Joe Biden is reviving the Obama push towards more renewable energy to “curb CO2 emissions”. Well, according to Goethe; “we are never deceived, we deceive ourselves.” Republican Texas Representative Dan Crenshaw, a one-eyed Navy Seal veteran, criticized the emphasis on developing wind and solar energy to combat climate change, saying the people advocating it are being disingenuous and not really looking to reduce emission but are more for a “religious adherence to solar and wind”. Germany spent over $500 billion to convert to solar and wind to replace coal, but it led to more emission and more reliance in bringing in natural gas from Russia.

Solar and wind energy requires plowing down hectares and hectares of land which otherwise would have provided food and tons of rare minerals for solar panels so that you can have UNRELIABLE ENERGY. If they are really concern about CO2 emission from fossil fuels which this writer believes is NOT an area of concern, then carbon capture technology would have been a better approach. It is the smarter option than keeping fossil fuels under the ground. The green brain and stupid activists believe that fossil fuels can never be part of a clean energy future. This of course is not true. The U.S. carbon emission levels NOW are in the 1990 levels because of extensive use of natural gas for power generations and vehicles.

Here in Iloilo, we are fortunate to have people like Andy Moncada, Lem Fernandez and Father Boy Celis who had the guts and perseverance to push for the coal-fired power plant at Ingore despite all the odds and oppositions hurled against them. Because of them, we have more than sufficient and stable power, hence a very progressive Iloilo. We are even exporting our excess power to Negros who boasts to be a green, coal-free island and yet getting 30% of its power from coal-fired power plants in Iloilo! That’s hypocrisy at its highest level, higher than the hypocrisy of the Pharisees during Jesus’ time.