UPDATED: About Those Rolling Blackouts & Natural Gas Shortage (or) Stupid Is As Stupid Does



The other day The Pink Flamingo suggested someone needed to investigate what happened with the rolling blackouts in the state of Texas that led to the natural gas cut-offs in New Mexico and Arizona.  I believe I was the only source to question what was occurring, and to pull in all the information about it.

Low and behold The Pink Flamingo was right!  There are now calls for investigations into what happened in Texas.  Evidently there may have been no need for the rolling blackouts, and the utility companies were using it to raise their prices.  From what I gather, as of the updating of this post, there are still homes in New Mexico that are without natural gas for heat.

This is a very big deal!

“…Texas officials have ordered an investigation into rolling blackouts that struck the state’s electric grid last week, including whether market manipulation played a role along with harsh weather in disrupting natural-gas and electricity supplies to millions of people.

The Public Utility Commission of Texas asked the state’s independent energy-market monitor, Daniel Jones, to conduct a probe to see if power generators, pipeline companies or others broke market rules. Among the questions are whether some firms faked power-plant problems to push prices higher, or were slow to restart plants that were off line…Electricity-grid officials said Mr. Jones’ team will look at price patterns and power-plant outages remembering that, in California’s energy crisis of 2000-2001, unscrupulous power generators feigned equipment problems to drive up the price of electricity. A significant number of plants in Texas failed last week, and wholesale electricity prices briefly spiked….The organization that runs the Texas grid, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas or Ercot, is considering whether it should require better weatherization at power plants. Trip Doggett, chief executive of the group, said it “will be working with generation owners to understand why and what can be done” to prevent the sort of breakdowns that destabilized the state’s electrical network. Among other problems, the breakdowns were caused by equipment freezing and cracking….”


Drudge has a headline that Mexico Has Canceled Help to US! Yea, right. The reason….we are on the border down here. If it is minus 12 in Las Cruces, it is going to be that cold in Mexico.

“…Three days after Arctic weather blasted the region, hundreds of thousands of electricity customers continue to face periodic blackouts, and nearly 900 gas customers still have no heat. The bigger problem: The utilities can’t say when the problems will be fixed. Utility officials say their companies are working feverishly to remedy and repair problems, but government leaders and residents clearly were frustrated on Thursday with the utilities’ lack of progress and inability to get the city moving again. The utilities asked area schools and the city and county governments to stay closed for the third straight day today as El Paso Electric tried to repair local generators and Texas Gas Service tried to muster enough pressure to reach the outskirts of El Paso. The schools and the County Courthouse will be closed, and City Hall will open for a shortened day with its heat turned down. “The only reason we did this is because the utilities asked us to,” City Manager Joyce Wilson said of the closures and delays….”

It’s called Geography for Dummies …. not some great conspiracy to keep the US cold.

“...Mexico’s Federal Electricity Commission had said Wednesday it had agreed to transmit 280 megawatts of electricity to Texas.

But on Thursday, the commission said it was temporarily suspending the transfer because below-freezing temperatures in northern Mexico have caused some damage to the generating capacity of its own plants, causing some power outages in several parts of Chihuahua state and a reduction of about 3,800 megawatts in generation.

The commission also said Mexico needed to ensure there was enough electricity to meet domestic demand, in the face of a severe cold snap that dumped snow on the border city of Ciudad Juarez, across from El Paso, Texas.

The National Meteorological Service said wind chill in Ciudad Juarez could drop to minus-4 degrees (-20 Celsius). It said the cold front could also send snow into other border cities, including Matamoros, Reynosa, Nuevo Laredo, to the east of Ciudad Juarez, over the coming week….”

It’s about a natural gas shortage in the land of natural gas. Sorry, but you can’t blame this one on Obama, Mexico, or the Weather.   Texas and New Mexico have been subjected rolling black-outs and the aftermath.

“…Demand has soared because of extremely cold weather across the state since Tuesday. New Mexico Gas Company said rolling blackouts in West Texas also impeded the delivery of natural gas to New Mexico….”

This is a case of Stupid Is as Stupid Does.

I woke up on a very cold Wednesday morning to find the temperature an incomprehensible 29 degrees below zero. At six in the morning the power went out.  The temperature in my bedroom was 43 degrees.  The temperature at the time of the power outage, according to the Weatherbug on my Blackberry was 29 degrees below zero.  You read that correct.

“…Earlier Thursday, Taos Mayor Darren Cordova declared a state of emergency in the northern New Mexico community after gas service was disrupted. He urged area residents to conserve electricity to prevent an outage of that energy source. Martinez also urged people to curb electrical use to prevent blackouts and allow compressors to function so the state can get natural gas supplies. “The use of electricity and the use of natural gas are not isolated; one is impacting the other,” she said. The state’s largest electrical utility, Public Service Company of New Mexico, asked customers in the southern New Mexico communities of Alamogordo, Tularosa and Ruidoso to reduce their use of electricity because a transmission line serving the area was over capacity….”  (as in The Pink Flamingo’s use of electricity – FYI, I keep my daytime temp at 60 and night at 65 in the winter.  In the summer it stays on 69-72 depending on humidity).

I woke  up about quarter after six and called my sister.  I had cell service.  I asked her to google TNMP and see what was going on.  There was a message on their site that there were NO blackouts.  I finally called the local cops, to find out we were dealing with a broken transformer in Alamo (as usual) and would then be blacked out until 8AM.

I told my sister the temp.  She did not believe me.  By the time she checked, it had warmed up to a balmy 21 degrees below zero – with no heat.  My father did not believe me until I was able to cross-reference my report with my sister.

It was fifteen below zero in Las Cruces.

These temps are incomprehensible.  The Pink Flamingo cannot comprehend twenty-nine degrees below zero.  I can debate the esoteric points of extraterrestrial life.  I can debate Christian theology, fairly well.  I am well vised on Roman culture.  I know the date of St. Crispin’s Day – do you?  I can discuss Vulcan philosophy.  I can name most of the Monarchs of the UK in order, granted I may screw up an Edward or two, but who doesn’t, but from Richard III on, I own it. I read books.  I own books.  I adore historical and scientific trivia.  My rock collection is threatening to over-take my living room.  I cannot comprehend 29 degrees below zero in Ruidoso, New Mexico.  I can’t comprehend it anyplace south of International Falls, Minnesota.

It was 29 degrees below zero when PNM decided to black out Ruidoso. They could have blacked out a place where the temp was not as low, but they chose to hit us.

The blackouts were so severe that they cut off the supply of natural gas causing new governor Susana Martinez to declare a state of emergency.  She asked that all schools be closed and as many state buildings as possible be closed on Friday.  As a result EVERYONE was out shopping!

Please, read this and realize what happened.

“…With tens of thousands of people across New Mexico without natural gas service, Gov. Susana Martinez on Thursday declared a state of emergency, ordered government offices be shut down Friday and urged schools to “strongly consider” remaining closed for the day.

Demand has soared because of extremely cold weather across the state since Tuesday. New Mexico Gas Company said rolling blackouts in West Texas also impeded the delivery of natural gas to New Mexico.

Martinez declared a state of emergency for the entire state, urging residents to turn down their thermostats, bundle up and shut off appliances they don’t need for the next 24 hours.

She later announced all state operations not providing critical services would be closed Friday to decrease the strain on energy resources throughout New Mexico.

“Due to statewide natural gas shortages, I have ordered all government agencies that do not provide essential services to shut down and all nonessential employees to stay home” on Friday, Martinez said after meeting with public safety personnel in Albuquerque.

“I have also encouraged all schools that have not already announced closures to strongly consider doing so,” she said.

New Mexico Gas Company said service was disrupted throughout the state – in Bernalillo, Placitas, Taos, Questa, Red River and parts of Albuquerque, Silver City, Alamogordo, Tularosa and La Luz….”

My Fox Phoenix

Most of the natural gas that flows into New Mexico and Arizona comes from the Permian Basin.

“…The Permian Basin is a sedimentary basin largely contained in the western part of the U.S. state of Texas and the southeastern part of the state of New Mexico. It reaches from just south of Lubbock, Texas, to just south of Midland and Odessa, extending westward into the southeastern part of the adjacent state of New Mexico. It is so named because it has one of the world’s thickest deposits of rocks from the Permian geologic period. The greater Permian Basin comprises several component basins: of these, Midland Basin is the largest, Delaware Basin is the second largest, and Marfa Basin is the smallest. The Permian Basin extends beneath an area approximately 250 miles wide and 300 miles long.

Oil, Gas, Shale

The Permian Basin gives its name to a large oil and natural gas producing area, part of the Mid-Continent Oil Producing Area. Total production for that region up to the beginning of 1993 was over 14.9 billion barrels. The towns of Midland and Odessa serve as the headquarters for oil production activities in the basin…”


Now – this is what happened with those rolling blackouts.  Follow the blue pipe-line.


If you follow the blue lines, you can see the problem.

Oil, Shale, Gas

This is what happened – technically:

“…The unexpected drop in supplies from wells freezing off forced utilities and some looking to churn a quick profit to reach for gas in storage, forcing the company to set limits on withdrawals. At least 1.5 bcfd of production is offline in the East Texas, Fort Worth and Texas Gulf Coast basins, Bentek estimates, with at least 900 mmcfd offline in the Anadarko Basin, which is partly in Texas and Oklahoma. “Anadarko volumes being off makes a lot of sense,” said Matt Marshall, senior energy analyst with Bentek in Evergreen, Colorado. “It got hit hard by the weather and it’s liquids rich.” Liquids-rich gas tends to freeze faster since it has a higher dew point, Marshall said. Northern Natural Gas, a unit of MidAmerican Energy Holdings company (MDPWL.OB: Quote) that operates 15,000 miles of interstate pipelines from the Permian Basin in Texas to the Upper Midwest, reported problems on its entire pipeline system due to inclement weather. “Well head freeze offs resulted in decreased supplies,” said Mike Loeffler, a company spokesman in Omaha, Nebraska. “In addition, extreme winter temperatures and power outages fromthe storm have caused decreased tailgate plant performance in Texas and Oklahoma.”Loeffler said the problems stemmed from the central Permian Basin. Permian Basin production in Texas and New Mexico was off by at least 390 mmcfd as of Thursday morning, Bentek said….”

Follow the bouncing ball.  In order to transmit gas through the pipeline, to get it to work, the little intricacies, one needs …. electricity.  You cannot get the gas pipeline to work without it.  The irony is that the natural gas fired fuel plants were forced to almost shut down because of the extreme cold.  That caused the rolling blackouts in Texas.

With the power-grid doing the rolling black-outs, they weren’t bright enough to realize they would effect the flow of natural gas – not only in Texas, but New Mexico and Arizona.

It is obvious that the gas situation out of Midland-Odessa was made worse when the power was shut off to the plants that distributed natural gas to several states.  It makes one wonder if the problem was an idiot behaving stupidly, or the fact that the scenario of the past week was unanticipated.  If the latter is the case, then they’d better get their act together.

If the former was the cause, then one can only hope Susana Martinez will live up to her pre-election reputation as a tough prosecutor and go for the jugular.   According to a friend, we are dealing with an idiot who cut off natural gas to residents in two states during the worst cold spell in decades.  The person is more than likely, according to James, a political appointee who knows absolutely nothing about the utilities involved.

The whole problem arose because natural gas fired plants in Texas could not handle the extreme cold.  Should the problems associated with cold that was predicted well ahead of time have been considered?

Someone screwed up here…. I doubt if we will ever know what really happened.


2 thoughts on “UPDATED: About Those Rolling Blackouts & Natural Gas Shortage (or) Stupid Is As Stupid Does

  1. What an interesting post! I didn’t realize any of this was happening. It must have been very uncomfortable for you. This winter has been a severe one for many of us. I hate cold weather. I hope the problem has been resolved. Also hope you don’t come down with a cold.

  2. I am a fair weather person, a summer person. I have very few winter clothes. This time of year it’s 60 degree days and 15 degree nights. I still cannot comprehend 29 below zero. There are thousands of homes here in NM and AZ still without natural gas.


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