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VERIFY: Wind generators turned off sometimes to prevent Texas power grid from overloading

ERCOT said it has to limit the power transmitted to the grid when it reaches full capacity.

HOUSTON — Is Texas producing more power than the grid can handle? Someone noticed some turbines at a standstill on a windy day and asked the VERIFY team to find out if the generators are turned off on purpose.

Wind turbines are multiplying across the state. Texas is the top wind-power producer in the country. But the turbines are not always turning.

William wrote the VERIFY team, “(I) just drove through W. Texas and noticed that even with the wind blowing, many of the wind generators are turned off. I found out later that the Texas grid can't handle the extra load …. So, they have to turn off generators. Is that correct?”

We have three sources for this: ERCOT Interim CEO Brad Jones, Senior Asset Manager with EDF Renewables North America Jenny Fink, and KHOU energy expert Ed Hirs.

“If the turbines are off, it's normal. That could be one of three reasons. One: maintenance. Two: We already have enough power on the grid. Or three: There's not enough transmission capacity to take that power to the consuming regions of the state,” Hirs said.

Fink, who manages a wind farm, calls it wasted energy.

“It's really frustrating to see that we have the capability to produce more power than we're actually able to get to the people who need it,” Fink said.

But Jones explained last summer, that ERCOT has to limit the power transmitted to the grid to keep it from overloading.

“Simply similar to if you have too many Christmas lights together, you're going to have a problem, you’ll blow a fuse eventually,” Jones said.

So, we can VERIFY the wind generators are turned off from time to time.

ERCOT said the state’s transmission network would need significant infrastructure upgrades and more high-voltage lines to move the extra energy produced. And that would come at a cost of $1.2 billion.

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