Local expert explains when Texans can expect wind energy to come back on

Local News

LUBBOCK, Texas — Power is slowly being restored to folks across Texas, on both the Southwest Power Pool and the ERCOT girds as frozen systems come back online, but some wind turbines are still at a standstill. 

According to renewable energy expert Mark Harral at the Lubbock-based Group NIRE Renewable Energy, wind turbines should be back up in running no later than Saturday. 

“I think you are going to be back to regular production almost immediately,” said Harral.  

But for those that are still not turning, Harral says after shutting off a wind turbine it’s not as simple as just turning it back on again. 

“There is going to be a start up procedure for every wind turbine that must be followed by the staff. The other thing is it’s gotta be safe for the staff to go up the turbine,” said Harral. 

These stationary wind turbines being just one of the factors causing the power outages across Texas.

“Natural gas plants were also not able to operate at the same time and you had transmission lines that were unable to take the wind power that was producing, to the large areas where consumption of power occurs,” said Harral. 

Both SPP and ERCOT grids dealt with power outages over the last few days, but ERCOT ended up worse off than SPP. 

Harral said if Lubbock had been part of ERCOT, like it will be in June, the city would have seen worse outages.

“ERCOT is an island unto itself,” said Harral. “It’s got it’s own rules, and it’s got a much smaller footprint. The problem with that is it has less inertia, so it’s weaker than the other two grids in the United States.”

But Harral said no matter what electrical grid Texans were on during this storm, the lessons are the same.

“What can you do on your own to monitor your electricity usage, what can you do to make sure you are prepared for this,” said Harral. “It doesn’t matter if you’re in ERCOT or SPP, you need to treat it the same.”

According to Harral, in the winter, wind energy can make up anywhere from 25 to 50 percent of Texas’ energy. 

LP&L is still set to switch to the ERCOT grid. The company said Friday morning that that switch will happen as originally planned.

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