ERCOT acknowledges possibility of rolling blackouts this winter in 'extreme risk scenarios'

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Wednesday, November 30, 2022
ERCOT acknowledges possible rolling blackouts this winter
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Nearly two years after the deadly winter storm in 2021, Texas officials said the power grid should hold up over the coming months.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Nearly two years after the deadly winter storm in 2021, Texas officials said the power grid should hold up over the coming months.

"We're better prepared than ever," Peter Lake, with the Public Utility Commission of Texas, said.

Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which is under the Public Utility Commission, released a report Tuesday that stated the grid should be fine if Texas "experiences typical winter-grid conditions."

"We expect to have adequate supply to meet the need of the grid," ERCOT CEO Peter Vegas said.

However, the same report referenced what ERCOT calls "Extreme Risk Scenarios."

Those scenarios, which include combinations of plants going down, high demand, and low wind and solar production, could lead to rolling blackouts across the state.

"There is a scenario, where under the most extreme conditions, there could be not enough power. That's not acceptable," Vegas said. "We don't find that to be an acceptable circumstance, and that's why change is needed in the market design to reflect that."

Vegas and Lake said changes that have taken place since 2021 have made a major difference in the effectiveness of the grid during recent summer and winter months.

Those changes include more reserves, better communication between agencies, and the inspection and winterization of generators and plants.

Daniel Cohan, Ph.D., an environmental engineering professor at Rice University, said the probability of the grid holding up this winter is quite high.

"I think there's over a 95% chance everything will be fine," Cohan said.

He said the combination of high demand, lack of wind reserves, and plant outages would all have to occur at once for rolling blackouts to take place in Texas this winter.

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