TEXAS — Texans experienced their first cold snap of the year last weekend. That also meant the first test of the state's energy infrastructure since last February's deadly winter storm.
According to a report by Bloomberg Green, the natural gas system didn't fare so well with gas production in the Permian Basin region of West Texas plunging to its lowest levels since last February.
The cold caused complications at some plants, including equipment freezing up and a number of natural gas companies reported to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality that they had to unexpectedly flare off gas.
“It’s very concerning, these were large amounts of pollution,” said energy consultant Doug Lewin. “This is yet another reason, in addition to the reliability of our electric grid, why we need to have stronger winterization standards for natural gas production.”
Lewin said Texans should be concerned about what happened this past weekend given the 25% drop in temperatures that were below freezing for only 10 to 12 hours.
“Most of our electric production comes from natural gas especially in the winter time. So if you don’t have a gas supply that’s winterized, you can winterize your gas plants, but if you can’t get the fuel to the plants, they can’t operate and this shows that the problem has not been fixed from last year and might even be worse than we imagined,” he said.
While the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the grid operator, said there were no significant power outages around the state, Lewin said the disruptions to the natural gas supply continue to show the grid’s vulnerability if the state is struck by extreme cold weather again.
“We’re still very vulnerable, God forbid, should we get another cold front like we did last February,” Lewin said.
Click the video link above to watch our full interview with Lewin.