“The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) manages the flow of electric power to more than 26 million Texas customers — representing about 90 percent of the state’s electric load. As the independent system operator for the region, ERCOT schedules power on an electric grid that connects more than 46,500 miles of transmission lines and 710+ generation units,” according to ERCOT. With such coverage, it comes as no surprise that the independent system operator must take precautions to ensure the safety and electric reliability for its customers year-round, especially in colder weather conditions.
One year ago, the nation experienced extremely low temperatures, “ranked as the 19th coldest February in the 127-year period of record.” As the nation looks back at this event, we remember the millions of Americans who experienced electricity blackouts and water weather alerts. ScienceDirect, a website with a large database of medical, technological, and scientific publications, reflects on this event stating, “the Texas freeze of February 2021 left more than 4.5 million customers (more than 10 million people) without electricity at its peak, some for several days. The freeze had cascading effects on other services reliant upon electricity including drinking water treatment and medical services. Economic losses from lost output and damage are estimated to be $130 billion in Texas alone… As of March 2021, at least 111 people are known to have died during the freeze. AccuWeather estimated economic losses from lost output and damage to be $130 billion in Texas alone and $155 billion for the country as a whole.”
On February 2, ERCOT issued a Winter Weather Watch through Sunday, February 6 as a cold front brings freezing temperatures to the region. In the news post, ERCOT explains the reforms it has put in place to increase the reliability of the Texas grid:
- Inspected generating units and transmission and distribution facilities for weatherization to comply with new PUC requirements.
- Requiring CEO attestations of weather readiness.
- Taking a more conservative approach to operating the grid.
- Assessing on-site fuel supplies. ERCOT has assessed the on-site fuel supply for some gas-fired generators.
- Performing unannounced testing of generation resources.
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