UT Austin researchers report on what went wrong during winter storm

A new report from the University of Texas at Austin outlines some troublesome insights, highlighting what went wrong, creating a catastrophic blackout across the state in February.

"This report is mostly focused on recapping the events, sort of a timeline of the events leading up the winter storm and disruptions of natural gas and electricity systems," said Carey King, research scientist at Energy Institute at UT Austin.

The report found that the ERCOT blackouts were a result of failures across multiple power generation technologies. Researchers found out that the majority of the plants that went out, did so, much before they were expected to.

There are many components to a power plant, and if one thing goes wrong, it can create a domino effect. UT researchers believe that is likely what happened in February.

"They can range from switching from natural gas to fuel oil, changes to response to frequency, some of them might’ve been due to simple things like insulation and preventing icing," King said.

The report also mentioned the fact that the Public Utility Commission of Texas capped wholesale prices, which could’ve made many more bills much higher.

"Even though that week was expensive it could have potentially been more expensive," said Joshua Rhodes, research associate at The Department of Mechanical Engineering at UT.

Days before the storm, there were already natural gas issues brewing in the Permian Basin, which made the ERCOT electric grid issues worse. Researchers said the state's natural gas system was likely more stressed than it's ever been

Researchers say they aren't releasing recommendations. They are hoping scientists, and lawmakers can use this information to make appropriate changes.

The full report from the university can be viewed here. ERCOT also released a statement about improving electric grid reliability

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