Report: Texas grid still not prepared for extreme winter weather

An ERCOT report stated rolling blackouts are still possible in freezing conditions.

Photo of Michael Murney
A severe winter storm could force rolling blackouts on Texans, even after the upgrades following 2021's storm.

A severe winter storm could force rolling blackouts on Texans, even after the upgrades following 2021's storm.

Matthew T. Carroll/Getty Images

The Texas energy grid is still not fully prepared to weather a severe winter storm scenario, even after the string of upgrades and regulations that have followed 2021's winter storm, according to an Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) report published Tuesday.   

If facing an extreme winter storm, high electricity usage, power plant outages and insufficient solar and wind energy production would still cause Texans to endure rolling blackouts, according to the report. In a less extreme winter storm scenario, grid operators may still need to ask Texans to reduce their power usage during periods of especially high demand.  

ERCOT, the organization that manages Texas' power grid, analyzed three different "extreme" winter storm scenarios in its report. The scenarios extrapolated from weather conditions during 2021's winter storm which left hundreds of Texans dead and millions more without lights or heat in frigid temperatures for days. 

The council's analysis showed that in all three scenarios, Texans would be asked to reduce power usage to avoid rolling blackouts. If enough gas- and coal-fired power plants went offline, grid operators would also have to resort to rolling blackouts, according to the report. 

"It is critically important to address the fact that … under the most extreme conditions, there could be not enough power," Pablo Vegas, president and CEO of ERCOT, told the Texas Tribune's Erin Douglas. "That’s why change is needed in the market design in order to address that." 

According to the Tribune, Vegas and Texas Public Utilities Commission Chair Peter Lake said during a news conference Tuesday that ERCOT's report does not account for changes in grid management that have been implemented since Feb. 2021's winter storm. 

"This analysis is arithmetic… It doesn’t account for the many reforms we’ve put in place, like better communication and coordination," Lake said during the conference. "I absolutely expect the lights to stay on."

More News

Politics | 'Elon Musk' tax seeks to stop California billionaire exodus to TX
Downtown | One of Houston's tallest skyscrapers to become apartment complex
Education | Texas could possibly take over HISD. Here's what we know.
Local | Sugar Land construction company charged with bid-rigging fraud

For the latest and best from Chron, sign up for our daily newsletter here.