ORIGINAL REPORTING: Solutions For Texas Power System Reliability
Texas just dodged a repeat of 2021 outages, but its power sector has a long way to go, analysts say; New laws and regulations protected Texas this year, but long term reliability requires more, experts agreed
Herman K. Trabish, February 25, 2022 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: Power system analysts continue to fight against empty Texas political rhetoric for distributed resources to balance and strengthen the state’s electric electric service.
This year’s Texas winter has not caused a repeat of the February 2021 power failures but building resilience to extreme weather remains a work in progress, state regulators, policymakers and others acknowledged.
Last year’s record freeze disrupted the state’s natural gas and electricity systems, leaving Texans shivering in the dark for days. At least 210 people died and power disruptions cost the state economy between $80 billion and $130 billion, according to a November study by federal regulators. Despite a major legislative and regulatory response, concerns remain about the state’s long term preparedness to deal with extreme weather impacts.
“These were unusual and trying circumstances, but we have done things to dramatically improve the situation,” then Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) Chair Peter Lake told Utility Dive. “We can now avoid the downward spiral of the natural gas supply chain losing power and the power generators losing natural gas, which led to rolling blackouts.”
But assurances from legislators and regulators “were undercut when natural gas production dropped in [this year’s] January and February freezes,” said Alison Silverstein, a former advisor to the PUCT and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). “Too many decisions have been made without analysis of impacts or cost-effectiveness and without considering alternatives. Hope is not a strategy.”
Forecasts suggest Texas will avoid outages this winter but extreme weather threats from future winters and from summer heat, drought and hurricanes remain, climate researchers predict.
And while new laws have improved generators’ weatherization, they did not protect the natural gas supply, most analysts agree. Overlooking other options may allow the climate crisis to keep messing with Texas, they said… click here for more