Texas power grid reliability questioned in federal report

The winter storm in 2021 caused the largest power load shed in U.S. history. In Texas, the grid almost collapsed. That crisis is a big part of a winter preparedness report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

"So I don't think anybody should be hysterical. I do think, though, Texans have lived through February 2021 should be prepared," said Doug Lewin with Stoic Energy.

That advice from energy analysts Doug Lewin is because of a red flag in the report. Under the worst case scenario, in the draft report, the Texas grid would not have enough power generation.

"They said very clearly in the report in a normal winter, and it gets cold in a normal winter. There's been no problems. They said if you have a prolonged, extreme cold snap, you'll be about 18 gigawatts short," said Lewin.

A spokesperson with the Public Utility Commission on Wednesday said the grid is more reliable because of recent reforms.

"And that's why we know that we can absolutely be certain the lights will stay on this winter no matter what Mother Nature throws at us," said PUC chairman Peter Lake.


In an interview for Sunday night's Texas, the Issue Is, Lake told said new rules for power plants will do more than insulate pipes.

"Weatherization is just one part of the many reforms we have put in place. We've built out a bigger margin of safety in our reserves. So we have more generators available than ever before. And if there's any hint of trouble on the grid, we've changed operations to make sure that the control room brings on more generators sooner rather than later, as opposed to waiting until the last minute like they did in the past," said Lake.

ERCOT also has more control over power plant maintenance schedules. While those things were noted in the report, a concern was raised by a missing word, low. Without it, ERCOT seemed to be expecting rolling blackouts during the upcoming winter.

In a statement sent to FOX 7, an agency spokesperson said:

"ERCOT’s assessment reflected a ‘low’ probability of Energy Emergency Events occurring during the expected daily peak load hour. We have asked FERC to correct this error which they have done."

So what's left undone? Lewin agreed the answer may be among the issues discussed in the upcoming Legislative Session.

"Well, not only left undone, but not even begun is any change in energy efficiency. And FERC cited that in their report, rightfully so, that our peaks in the wintertime are driven by resistance, heat in poorly insulated homes," said Lewin.

The FERC report did make note of a big safety net that ERCOT has which is requiring power plants to have back up fuel on site and enough to last 30 days.

The full interview with PUC Chairman Peter Lake can be seen during the FOX 7 Sunday night newscast.