Power Grid in Texas ‘Minutes Away From Failure’ During Storms
Texans have been put through the wringer this week as we have lost power, water, heat, and so much more.
News outlets from across the nation are documenting the bitter scene in the typically hot, sunny state. Many Texans have been living without power for days, yet it seems like a lifetime for most of us. Things could have gotten a lot worse, and we didn't even know it.
Texas was only moments away from something more horrific than residents could even imagine. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, said Texas was dangerously close to a worst-case scenario: uncontrolled blackouts across the state.
As severe winter weather slammed Texas, power grids began to trip offline. What power grids were up and running were being pushed over time as many people started to crank up the heat to stay warm inside. This began to cause an overload which caused some immediate concern to grid operators, who ultimately began to cut off power by initiating rolling outages. Usually, those outages are limited to less than 45 minutes, but this week, the outages lasted days.
Bill Magness, president of ERCOT stated, “It was seconds and minutes [from possible failure] given the amount of generation that was coming off the system.”
Magness commented on Wednesday, mentioning if operators hadn't acted so swiftly, the state could have suffered blackouts that “could have occurred for months” and left Texas in an “indeterminately long” crisis.
According to ERCOT, they have three different procedures to follow when dealing with a lack of power:
- They can call on other grids for help
- Attempt to reduce demand by interrupting power to large industrial customers that have previously agreed to have power cut during an emergency.
- Order transmission companies to reduce demand on the system with rotating outages for customers.
Texas seems to have been hit with the third procedure.
ERCOT advised that emergency conditions remain and that “some level of rotating outages” may be necessary over the coming days to keep the grid stable.
Our Texas Governor Greg Abbott has voiced his concern and displeasure with ERCOT and handling the situation. He claimed the power source should have been better prepared for the conditions since they had prior discussions of the weather situation.
“This is something I declared in advance, this is something our team had been talking to them in advance,” he said. “But all of that aside, they should be providing greater transparency; they are a public entity.”
One lawmaker, State Sen. José Menéndez, D-San Antonio, was early in calling for ERCOT’s CEO and board to resign.