According to the authors of a new UT Austin analysis evaluating the Power outages and their financial ramifications, the February winter storm that nearly brought the Texas electricity grid to its knees certainly tested the state’s natural gas infrastructure more than at any time in history. In addition, the report contains previously revealed information regarding how the grid’s manager, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, responded to the mounting catastrophe.
It resulted in extensive outages and hundreds of deaths across the state. ERCOT announced its own “roadmap” of 60 ideas to upgrade the grid shortly after the study was released. Carey King, the assistant director of UT’s Energy Institute, said, “This isn’t the only time natural gas has constrained electricity generation — it happened in other recent blackouts (1989 and 2011) — but this time was unique. The system was stressed to its absolute maximum capability.”
ERCOT’s Emergency Response Service (ERS) program, which pays to participate customers to limit the amount of electricity they buy from the grid or start utilizing backup generators during emergencies, is one of the report’s most eye-catching revelations. According to the ERCOT website, the goal is to reduce the need for rolling blackouts.
The scheme enlisted 67 electric meters operated by natural gas firms, according to UT Austin researchers. When the program was triggered on Feb. 15, those meters, which were part of the fuel supply chain that provided energy to millions of Texans, lost Power. But, according to Joshua Rhodes, a research associate, and co-author, at least five of those meters were eventually identified as “critical natural gas infrastructure,” such as natural gas compressors, processing facilities, or other sections of the supply chain.