Robertson County Plant’s Pipe Burst Part of Outage’s Cause

Feb 02, 2011

By: Associated Press and KBTX Staff

Burst water pipes at two coal-fired power plants forced them to shut down, triggering rolling power cuts across the state, the lieutenant governor said Wednesday.

You may have been one of the millions of people across Texas who encountered rolling power outages as the state faced an electricity demand crisis Wednesday.

Historic low temperatures caused a cascading effect of 50 power plants shutting down and part of the problem started at a power plant here in the Brazos Valley.

The coldest week of the year wreaked havoc on the Texas power grid Wednesday causing rolling blackouts statewide after 50 power plants went offline.

Karen Weir lost power at her College Station home around 7 A.M.
“My phones are out and I’m relying on my cell phone and my cell phone is running low so I live here by myself and that’s not exactly a good feeling to not have any communication,” said Karen Weir of College Station.

Teresa Juarez had a break at work after losing power at the Eastgate Hair Shop.

“Well we were out of power but it’s back on so I guess we’re back in business,” said Juarez.

The Oak Grove Power Plant north of Franklin in Robertson County was one of the first two plants to encounter broken water pipes from the sub-freezing temperatures.

That and other plant failures elsewhere caused the state to face an electric shortage.

“ERCOT then began instituting rolling blackouts this morning and it’s important to note that this is a system wide issue across Texas. ERCOT has said that they experienced outages at about 50 power plant units or had about 7,000 megawatts offline Luminant was less than half of that capacity,” said Laura Starnes, a Luminant spokesperson.

Starnes said extra workers have been called in at Oak Grove to get the plant back online.

“We’re currently doing everything that we can to restore operations safely and as quickly as possible. We’re also actually working with ERCOT and other state agencies to manage this situation,” she said.

With more outages possible this week it’s a situation that Karen Weir continues to worry about.

‘I think it’s a matter, communication isn’t very good where as people know what’s happening if they put in on television what good does it do if you don’t have power?” asked Karen Weir.

The Oak Grove Power Plant generates 1,600 megawatts of electricity which during extreme temperatures can power 320,000 homes.

Now Luminant officials said the last time they had these types of problems due to the cold weather was 15 years ago.

*Previous Story*
AUSTIN, Texas — Burst water pipes at two coal-fired power plants forced them to shut down, triggering rolling power cuts across the state, the lieutenant governor said Wednesday.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said this is something that “should not happen.”

Dewhurst said he was told that water pipes at two plants, Oak Grove and Sand Hill, forced them to cut electricity production. Natural gas power plants that should have provided back up had difficulty starting due to low pressure in the supply lines, also caused by the cold weather.

The lieutenant governor said the demand placed on the Texas grid was nowhere near peak capacity. He said he was frustrated by the situation.

The statewide electricity authority ordered cities across the state to start rolling power outages to cope with the crisis.