As arctic front moves into Central Texas, how is our power grid faring?

Texas

AUSTIN (Nexstar) — So far Sunday, Texas’ power grid has avoided entering tight conditions, which can often lead to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas to request that Texans do what they can to conserve power.

Ahead of the arctic front that raced across Central Texas overnight Saturday, Gov. Greg Abbott pointed to updates Texans can follow along with to see how our power grid is currently operating.

The governor tweeted a screenshot of current power grid conditions from the ERCOT app.

“The purple line on top shows that as temperatures are dropping ERCOT is increasing power capacity,” he said in the tweet, but energy experts warned this cold front is not a true test of how changes made following the February freeze will hold up in a true emergency.

“It’s not like in February, where it was 70 to 80 hours in a row under freezing, basically, across the entire state. So this is just extremely different,” energy analyst Doug Lewin said Sunday.

“ERCOT posts what the demand is, and today, we’re somewhere around like 52, or 53 [gigawatts]. A normal winter peak is about 60 [gigawatts],” Lewin explained. “So we’re well below, 10 to 15% below even what a normal winter peak was. Last February, we had 77 gigawatts of demand.”

He said after all of the trauma Texans experienced last February, he hoped ERCOT and the Public Utilities Commission would have posted more to their social media accounts to ease Texans’ minds ahead of the cold front. Nothing has been posted on either since Thursday.

“It’s really important that ERCOT and the PUC in the entire state government level with people, speak honestly about the risks and the probabilities. Speaking in terms of guarantees and absolutes just isn’t helpful,” Lewin said.

Sunday morning, the Houston area experienced some outages, but Lewin said this is normal.

“It was probably really strong winds hitting power lines. And that’s just very common in these kinds of things,” Lewin said. “I’m sure the the hard working crews that those utilities got things back up really quickly. or will if they’re not backed up yet. But again, that’s just it sort of speaks to, why have any kind of absolute guarantee when you know that things like that are possible.”

He acknowledged the changes made to the grid this year are a vast improvement, but added Texans should prepare if another storm like the one we saw in February is in the forecast.

“There have been improvements. I think if we had the exact same weather conditions, the outages wouldn’t last as long they wouldn’t be as deep,” Lewin said. “But if we had the same weather conditions, we would almost certainly have outages so it’s important to level with people and make sure people are prepared.”

Texans can track current grid conditions here.

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