News25 Investigates


25 investigates: Mart wonders why its windmills aren't turning

Posted at 10:19 PM, Feb 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-16 23:30:31-05

MART, TX — As power troubles plague Texas, one town, which is out of power, wonders why it's new crop of windmills weren't working Tuesday.

On a day so still you could hear the ice melt, a touch of cabin fever convinced Charlie and Katie Walter to get out for a walk among the windmills outside Mart.

But they didn't see the windmills working.

”What did we think when we saw this?" asked 25 News reporter Dennis Turner.

"Yeah, we were confused why they weren't turning at first,” Katie responded.

It bothered them, because the icy cold forced them from their home into the home of a neighbor when the power went out.

"So we've been over at his house actually staying by the gas heater," Charlie explained.

So the sight of this shining symbol of the future of renewable energy not turning stood out.

Why did these windmills stop turning? Well there wasn't enough wind Tuesday to push them. Technicians say when the next cold front comes through, plenty of wind will come through, cranking them back up.

The so-called move is actually a safety feature of these giant turbines.

”Most wind turbines have what's called a cutting speed, which is basically the minimum amount of wind that needs to be blown by for the machine to actually come on and operate. Otherwise, if not enough wind is blowing and, you know, the turbine won't be able to produce electricity that is capable of sending to the grid,” said John Hensley, Vice President of Research and Analytics for American Clean Power.

It's something that could damage an already fragile distribution system, which continues having trouble making those so-called rolling blackouts roll properly.

Meantime, Governor Greg Abbott has put the full-court press on power producers to get all the juice flowing again.

”We're gonna keep pressing on these private power generation companies to get all of their power back online until we get all customers restored,” he said.

Because folks like Charlie and Katie Walter need to get back into their homes safely.

Unfortunately, there's not much anybody can do about the lack of wind.

The Walters say they, and Texas, should probably diversify where they get their power and heat so if one fails, the other can pick up the slack.

”That'd do good mutual funds. Yeah, it's like a mutual fund of energy. I think it makes sense,” said Charlie.

So folks in town won't have to listen to the noise of generators and instead and listen the the pleasing sound of ice melting.