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Texas Blackouts, just-in-time delivery

February 6, 2011, by Ken Jorgustin

texas-power-grid-ercot-map


Why did cold weather in Texas cause power outages and rolling blackouts?
Answer: just-in-time-electricity


At the heart of the problem were the effects of unusually cold weather that shut down several coal-fired power plants in central Texas for various reasons, which then led to an immediate demand to fire up additional natural gas-fueled plants to restore power, but they didn’t have enough gas.

Natural gas demand had peaked Wednesday at a 30 year high due to cold weather demands, and gas utilities were prioritizing homes over that of power generation plants for their distribution of what they did have.


The underlying very basic problem here seems to be one that is quite common, and the normal way of doing big company business today. That is, just-in-time delivery.

Rather than having excess inventory on the shelves (fill in the business or category), much money is spent instead on expertise to finely tune the system’s processes in order to be the closest that they dare to the edge of maximized profits versus failure to deliver.

This way of thinking may serve Wall Street and big investors the profits that they demand, but it does not serve the customer on the street very well. Reason being, this way of doing business inserts greater risks into the process, risks that could hurt you and I should theses systems break down.


For most people, today’s way of life depends ENTIRELY upon many of these systems to be delivering, delivering always. Electrical power is essential to nearly every subsystem that there is.

The rolling blackouts in Texas should serve as a reminder of our dependency on these things, and will hopefully cause some of us to think about, and plan for what we would do if these systems were to fail us for longer than a few hours at a time.

One thing’s for certain, big business will only continue to advance closer to the razor edged of just-in-time delivery…


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