In Texas in US, planned outage has started due to the influence of a record big chill. According to the US media, at the morning of eastern standard time (US), more than 400 million households has been affected by the planned outage. Because of shutdowns of oil and natural gas pipelines, crude oil and gas prices were inflated.
In Texas, several oil refineries such as Exxon Mobil Corporation shut down by 15th and the supply comparable to several million barrels stopped. Because around 30 facilities exist in Texas, supply capability of oil to all America degraded. Especially in Galveston, in the south-east of Texas, more than 90% of electric power supply has been stopped due to the insufficiency of supply of natural gas and freeze of wind turbines.
(↑ In Japanese)
Large scale planned outage due to the influence of a record big chill in Texas. Actually, Texas has big natural gas fields, and here electrical power generation in a large proportion is carried out by natural gas. However, due to the freezing of pipelines, it seemed the gas flow inside the pipelines clogged up. Since the climate of Texas is usually warm, preparation for freezing was not sufficient. Thus, the trouble of natural gas pipelines had occurred.
To make matters worse, the pipelines trouble inflated the electricity charges to the highest level ever. The price of 1 kWh became 900 yen (: around 8.5 US$). This means that the use of electricity in a household from 30 minutes to an hour costs 900 yen. So, if a family spent their time in their house in 1 day, the electricity charges would be around 10,000 yen (: around 90 US$). When converted to charges in 1 month, it could cost 300,000 yen (: around 2700 US$)…!!
In US and Europe, the system of the liberalization of the electricity market is already well developed, and Japanese government is trying to develop a similar system now. The merit of this system for the consumers is that the electricity charges decrease by competition principle. On the other hand, the demerit is the electricity charges could be inflated in the case of disaster such as this case in Texas.
This kind of trouble could happen only a few times per year, but we had better prepare to avoid inflated electricity charges by means such as change of the type of contract, or, installation of battery (energy storage system) and photovoltaic (solar) energy system.
(↑ In Japanese)