After frigid temperatures caused rolling blackouts in Texas a decade ago, leaving more than 3 million people without power during the Super Bowl, the state was warned by federal energy officials that it needed to address its system failures.
But that did not happen, and now, ten years later, Texans are again without power as the state has plunged into another deep freeze.
From The Houston Chronicle:
Now, with a near identical scenario following another Texas cold snap, Texas power regulators are being forced to answer how the unusually cold temperatures forced so much of the state’s power generation offline when Texans were trying to keep warm.
To start, experts say, power generators and regulators failed to heed the lessons of 2011 — or for that matter, 1989. In the aftermath of the Super Bowl Sunday blackout a decade ago, federal energy officials warned the grid manager, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas or ERCOT, that Texas power plants had failed to adequately weatherize facilities to protect against cold weather.
A federal report that summer recommended steps including installing heating elements around pipes and increasing the amount of reserve power available before storms, noting many of those same warnings were issued after similar blackouts 22 years earlier and had gone unheeded.
A spokesman for the Association of Electric Companies of Texas “said state power plants submit weatherization plans to both the Public Utility Commission, which oversees the power industry, and ERCOT.” The spokesperson declined to comment on criticisms about the state’s preparedness.
In a conference call Monday, Dan Woodfin, ERCOT’s senior director of system operations, said generators followed best practices for winterization, but the severity of the weather went “well beyond the design parameters of an extreme Texas winter.”
But the repeat of the events of a decade ago is raising questions in Austin as to whether the state has failed to ensure power companies are adequately protecting equipment from the elements. At the peak of the blackout, some 45,000 megawatts of generation capacity were offline, leaving more than 4 million Texans without power.
The report noted that the Texas Legislature passed a law in 2011 that requires power companies to submit regular reports on their weatherization efforts with the Texas Public Utility Commission; however, the author of that bill — State Comptroller Glenn Hegar — questioned whether it was sufficient.
“While the issues that are plaguing our electric grid system in this disastrous winter storm are complex,” Hegar said, “I am extremely frustrated that 10 years later our electric grid remains so ill-equipped for these weather events.”
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