red Texas store signage

A Closer Look At Texas Power Grids

Following up with our previous blog, we will look at power grids and how they work. We’ll look at Texas’ power grid and what exactly went wrong. Including grid regulations.

 

Texas Power Grids

First, the United States has 3 power grid systems: the Eastern & Western interconnections, then Texas’ own system, ERCOT. It stands for Electric Reliability Council Of Texas. As Texas began to light up at the turn of the 20th century, they naturally developed their own system. Then, during FDR’s tenure as he passed New Deal laws, Texas ran from the idea of federal regulations. ERCOT formed in 1970. It is not entirely exclusive to Texas, and Texas is not exclusive to ERCOT. El Paso and a part of the Panhandle is part of the Western grid. A small portion of East Texas is on the Eastern grid. ERCOT is connected to Mexico as well.

So, the main reason why Texas has ERCOT is to reduce federal regulation and interference- laissez faire. Roughly 25% of Texas energy comes from wind, 51% natural gas, 13% coal. When demand is low, Texas will use wind power. Electricity is formed at power plants, then gets to high voltage power lines through transmission substations, then to power substations, to distribution bus. Then, it goes to the regulator bank. The regulator bank controls the power throughout the area, and rolling blackouts. Normally, regulator banks have electricity flow on a schedule based on the most frequent activity. CPS/Ercot can control each individual house and building.

 

Regulations

If Texas is good at anything, it’s ignoring the rest of the U.S.’ regulations while we live by our own rules. However, this was Texas’ own undoing. Regulations would call for winterizing power plants, which is only optional for ERCOT. Now, the company is heavily under fire for not taking precautionary measures for the winter storm. After 4 million people were left in cold, dark homes, Governor Greg Abbott called for some members of ERCOT to resign.

 

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black sconce lamp turned on on white wall

The History of Electricity

For our fourth and final article of ‘History of Energy Sources’, we have the History of Electricity. This one is a little more diverse as electricity has several different sources. Read about electricity’s journey from the sky to everywhere around you.

 

Darth Sidious, master wielder of Force Lightning

Discovery of Electricity

Like all other energy sources, electricity has been around since the dawn of time. It was only in lightning and static charge. Unlike other sources, it wasn’t used until 1752. Ben Franklin discovered the powerful energy source with his kite lightning rod. Franklin conducted his electricity experiment by attaching a metal rod to a kite. Hemp and silk rope strung the kite. Eventually, Franklin noticed little threads of the hemp rope upright. Then, he felt a spark with his finger. People now have a way to draw electricity from the sky.

After Franklin’s experiment, scientists globally became very interested in electricity. Then, Italian physicist Alessandro Volta created the first battery in 1800. Apparently, an argument with a physicist pushed him to create the battery. It was made from zinc, copper, and silver. With this battery, he discovered positive and negative charges. Thus, also electric current.  “Volta” turned into volts/voltage. He also discovered methane.  Now that Volta discovered how to make electricity, it made way for our things today. A couple of decades after Volta’s battery came the first electric motor. Here is a timeline covering electric inventions.

 

Electricity Now

Electricity started appearing in homes in the 1880s. It is debated whether Nikolai Tesla or Thomas Edison invented the first lightbulb. Regardless, lightbulbs came out in 1882. The wealthy were the first to ditch dim lamps and candles for the bulbs. By 1940, nearly all homes have electricity, thanks to Roosevelt’s 1936 Act. GreenSun LED Lighting vintage light bulbs

Now electricity is everywhere, especially in the digital age. Every city has a power plant. They’re usually in a body of water to keep cool. Other electric sources are wind turbines and solar panels. Panels are becoming more popular. Solar is cheaper and more effective than wind. As electricity becomes more important, so does solar power. Soon, we will see electric cars and 5G. Biden hopes to replace oil and gas with electricity.

Thanks for reading about the history of electricity. Let us know what you think about our everyday electricity use.

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gray Nest thermostat displaying at 63

Tips on Saving Energy in the Winter

As the temperatures drop, the heater turns up. Here are some tips on saving energy during the winter months.

snow covered plant and road in front of cafeAlbeit, it is easier to save on energy during the summer because you can use the heat to your advantage, such as drying clothes. However, it’s harder to do so in the winter, especially if you’re cold all the time (like me). But, now is the time to enjoy cozy sweaters!

 

 The Heater

There’s a reason why dads are finnicky about the thermostat. After all, it’s the biggest contributor to your electric bill. Here are some ways you can save that heater from running all the time without freezing yourself.

  • If you live in the southern US, then chances are you may not need your air on every day. Try turning off the air (or put it on 70) on a warmer winter day then turn the heater back on at night.
  • Turn it down at night. As you build up body heat through the night, your cooler house will keep you from waking up in sweat. I like it at around 71 or 72, however some like it at 67!
  • Socks. Most of your body heat escapes through your feet. A good pair of socks will help retain that heat, keeping you warm.
  • Turn it down when cooking. The stove/ oven puts out a lot of heat so your heater doesn’t have to.

 

Other Appliances

If it’s a warmer day, use it to your advantage. When you dry clothes, dry them most of the way then let air-dry. Insulate thin windows or those with drafts to keep the cold air out. However, on a sunny day, keep the blinds open to let the sun’s heat in. Also, consider using energy-efficient holiday lights. Cover outside faucets, fireplace (when not in use) and outside vents.

 

white and brown pine leaf and dried leaf

We hope this post inspires you to be more energy conscious. Saving energy can help your bills and the environment. And, it will also save your AC/heater unit some strain, making it last longer. Thanks for reading! If you’d like to find more energy-saving tips, check out this article.

 

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white wind turbines on green grass field under blue and white cloudy sky during daytime

Wind Energy: How It Works

AWEA says, “Wind energy (or wind power) refers to the process of creating electricity using the wind, or air flows that occur naturally in the earth’s atmosphere.” Modern wind turbines capture kinetic energy from the wind. Then, the spinning action generates electricity. This method is renewable and ideal in windy climates. Places such as the Great Plains and coastal areas have them. Read on to find out about the process and the benefits of the wind industry!

 

Wind Energy

Wind turbines are in 40 states. Texas produces the most electricity from its wind farms at around 28,000 MW per year. The wind industry builds wind farms. These contain numerous wind turbines, from around 10 – 500. The average wind farm will have about 150. The largest one is in California, with over 4,000! They are versatile in use. In fact, one home can rely on just one turbine for power. There are three different categories: small power, offshore, and direct. Small power refers to one or two turbines used to power a home/building. On the other hand, direct has the electricity gather at a power grid.

 

white wind mill lot on green field

So, how does wind turn into electricity? First, the turbines are engineered strategically for optimized wind capture. The blades are especially angled a certain way. Ideal wind speed is in between 6-50 MPH. Then, the heavy momentum keeps the blades going, powering the generator. Next, the generator produces electricity that flows to a power grid. Finally, the power grid sends out electricity through distribution lines. These are connected to homes and other buildings.

 

There are a few benefits to wind energy. According to energy.gov, wind power is inexpensive. Over time, wind farms or single-use turbines pay for themselves. Obviously, it’s a renewable resource, so it’s a great alternative to oil and coal. Actually, it’s the largest source of renewable energy. On that note, the wind industry has a great job sector. Such as, a variety of opportunities in engineering.

 

If you want to make a difference in our environment, then consider investing in the wind industry. This clean, renewable energy source won’t pollute the air and is cost-effective. Or, if you live in a remote, windy area, maybe your home needs its own wind turbine.

 

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