ERCOT CEO says 'we need to make smart decisions' amid growing risk ahead of winter

Elyse Smith Image
Thursday, December 14, 2023
ERCOT CEO notes growing risk ahead of winter
The status of Texas' power grid is a top concern, this week, ERCOT's CEO mentioned an increasing risk for grid failure this winter.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- On Wednesday, ABC13 Meteorologist Elyse Smith followed up on a recent statement made by ERCOT CEO Pablo Vegas initially reported by our partners at the Houston Chronicle.

The status of the power grid is a top concern for all Texans, as this upcoming February will mark three years since the deadly winter freeze of 2021. With that in mind, here's a look back to some of the most recent developments ABC13 has been following from ERCOT this fall.

First, in October, ERCOT announced it was working to expand the grid's capacity and add an additional 3,000 megawatts of power. The equivalent would supply up to 600,000 homes. Then, in November, ERCOT canceled that proposed program that would have boosted power reserves, citing very few companies showing interest in the program.

So that brings us to now, where at an event hosted by the trade group U.S. Energy Association, Vegas mentioned Texas' increasing risk for grid failure. This, too comes after ABC13 learned from ERCOT that there's a 20% chance the grid will enter so-called emergency conditions this winter.

"If we do smart things with investments in resources, we can bring that risk down. But we need to make smart decisions," Vegas said.

ERCOT is working on potential solutions to help keep the power on if the grid were to go down during a winter storm. They even have pilot programs for this new technology. However, that's years down the road to when any of those changes would be implemented or even available.

So in the immediate future, this upcoming winter, there is no solution. With that in mind, ABC13 Meteorologist Elyse Smith has been in contact with representatives from ERCOT to try to learn more about how the weather impacts the grid and what they look for in the extended forecast that might serve as a warning sign.

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