AUSTIN (KXAN) — As a winter storm that brought ice and freezing temperatures slowly makes its way out of Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott and and state leaders said Friday the electric grid performed as expected and is “more reliable than ever.”
“The actions taken by the legislature, by the PUC and by ERCOT have resulted in a stronger grid,” Abbott said.
The Republican governor said Texas had about 15% more power generation than last year, “as a result of the winterization that protected power generation facilities across the state.”
Even though Texas is expected to see freezing temperatures again Friday night, Abbott said these results so far should assure Texans the power grid will continue to perform well during the highest points of demand.
Abbott was joined by state representatives from the Texas Division of Emergency Management, ERCOT and Texas Department of Public Safety, among others responding to the storm.
It appears Texas hit its peak power demand this morning, and it came at around 69,000 MW, significantly less than ERCOT projections. State leaders said even during that power consumption peak, there will be enough power in the grid to avoid any disruptions.
The governor said the state is not expecting to surpass this demand level throughout the rest of this cold snap. He noted more than 86,000 MW of power was available to meet grid demand during that time. Abbott said last year, ERCOT forecasted peak demand to be around 77,000 MW.
“That’s important, because that far exceeds the estimated peak demand during last year’s winter storm … that’s about 9,000 megawatts less than this year’s highest available power supply.”
The changes made include requiring power generators to weatherize ahead of this winter.
“We have no confirmed outages of any equipment related to weather. So we believe that the weather weatherization event and our prepare preparations have been extraordinary, and been very successful today,” ERCOT CEO Brad Jones said Friday.
Energy experts acknowledge the changes made to the grid have improved reliability overall.
“The grid probably is in its best shape, in terms of a robustness to cold weather perspective than it has ever been,” Michael Webber, an energy expert at University of Texas said this week. But, he said more needs to be done.
“We still need to invest in improving the reliability to gas system, improving the reliability of the power generation system, and improving the reliability the transmission distribution systems with smart meters and dispatchable, load and energy efficiency, all sorts of things,” Webber said.
Webber also pointed out this winter storm wasn’t anywhere near what Texas experienced in 2021, or even the 2011 storm that resulted in rolling blackouts.
“This storm wasn’t a true test, it wasn’t as cold for as long across as wide an area. And so to use a simpler test with a weaker storm was still a lot of outages to declare victory might be problematic, because it might give us a false sense of confidence. And I would say it might be a near miss is the way to think about it,” Webber said.
Thursday, Abbott said this storm is one of the “most significant icing events that we have had in the state of Texas in several decades.”
In response, Abbott signed a disaster declaration in multiple counties at a noon press conference Thursday. The declaration, made in response to a massive and ongoing winter storm, triggers price gouging rules and makes it illegal to excessively hike up prices on vital goods and services. It also made it easier to get power trucks into Texas.
The state is bringing in roughly 2,000 linemen to help the local workforce make repairs to any downed lines. As of Friday morning, Abbott said the number of Texans without power dropped from around 70,000 Thursday to 20,000. Leaders again attributed that to local issues like ice or fallen trees on power lines and said crews are working “around the clock” to fix those issues.
Maggie Glynn will have a full report on this story on KXAN News at 5 p.m. Friday evening.