Rice University professor says ERCOT underestimated Texans' demand despite power staying on

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Wednesday, December 28, 2022
Rice University professor believes ERCOT underestimated Texans' demand despite power staying on during freeze
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"A real-life experiment," that's what Rice University professor Daniel Cohan called the previous few days of sub-freezing temperatures for ERCOT.

"A real-life experiment," that's what Rice University professor Daniel Cohan called the previous few days of sub-freezing temperatures for ERCOT, which is the organization responsible for operating the Texas electrical grid.

"This is a storm we're going to look back and realize, especially as the state grows, that we need to be ready for higher levels of wintertime demand than ERCOT had been ready for before," Cohan said.

The grid did hold over during the previous few days, but ERCOT did underestimate the amount of electricity needed by Texans.

Cohan said that's because so much of the state blacked out in February 2021, and as a result, it wasn't possible to determine how much energy Texans needed under such frigid conditions.

He added there are also other factors at play in ERCOT's underestimation of wintertime demand.

"We had huge economic growth, huge economic growth, we have over 60% of homes heated by electricity now, which is higher than it was in the past," he explained. "It's the first time our modern conditions on the grid are being pushed to 10 to 20-degree weather."

Cohan said while ERCOT did do well during the last few days, improvements need to take place in the future. One example he gave included building more gas plants to provide electricity when wind-and-solar sources aren't available.

As for ERCOT, they praised the fact that the lights stayed on this time, but added in a statement to ABC13 that they will "continue to use every reliability tool available to ensure the grid meets the electricity demands of Texans at all times."

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