Texas power grid was minutes from ‘total collapse’


Texas’ power grid was “within four minutes and 37 seconds of total collapse” during the recent historic winter storm, meaning the state could have been in the dark for weeks, according to a report.

The shocking revelation was made during an emergency meeting Wednesday of the Texas Electrical Reliability Council, a cooperative responsible for 90 percent of the state’s electricity, KHOU reported.

“This was a devastating event,” said ERCOT CEO Bill Magness in his opening remarks at the board meeting. “Power is essential to civilization.”

Authorities said ERCOT lost 48.6 percent of power generation during the peak of the outages, and if the drop had continued, the remaining generators would have started to go offline, leading to a possible system collapse that would have required a so-called “black boot”. . “

Magness doubled down on his claim that continued outages were necessary to avoid such a blackout in Texas, which is the only state to have its own independent power grid.

“If we have a system outage, the system is out of service for an indeterminate period of time and it is extraordinarily difficult to recover,” he said, according to CBS Austin.

“We may still be talking about when the power will come back on if we let the system go to that condition,” Magness added.

People wait in long lines at a grocery store in Austin, Texas, on February 17, 2021.
People wait in long lines at a grocery store in Austin, Texas, on February 17, 2021.
Montinique Monroe / Getty Images

During the storm, 356 generators went offline, nearly doubling what Texas experienced during its last major winter storm in 2011, KHOU reported.

ERCOT officials said Wednesday it has 13 units it has contracted with in the event of a power outage, but six of them experienced outages last week.

During the meeting, officials discussed some of the steps ERCOT took to prepare for the weather, including canceling transmission maintenance outages and waiving COVID-19 restrictions to bring in additional support workers, among others. measurements.

They also said that an order from the Department of Energy allowed power generators to ignore some environmental standards, which was very helpful.

Electric utility trucks line up after the February 16, 2021 snow storm in Fort Worth, Texas.
Electric utility trucks line up after the February 16, 2021 snow storm in Fort Worth, Texas.
Ron Jenkins / Getty Images

ERCOT officials said natural gas plants failed the most during the crisis, according to CBS Austin. Wind generators also struggled, but sometimes outperformed.

“There were a lot of gas supply-related problems during this event,” Magness said. “What I like to emphasize here is that the storm affected all kinds of generations.”

He added: “We are sorry that this event has been slow to resolve. What ERCOT wants to do today, what ERCOT wants to do in legislative hearings tomorrow and in the future is provide explanations, not excuses. “

On Tuesday, ERCOT announced in a notice to the Texas Public Service Commission that four of its board members will resign effective Wednesday.

A fifth member submitted their resignation separately and the resignation of a sixth was announced at Wednesday’s meeting.

Authorities said ERCOT lost 48.6 percent of power generation during the peak of the outages.
Authorities said ERCOT lost 48.6 percent of power generation during the peak of the outages.
Montinique Monroe / Getty Images

Gov. Greg Abbott released a statement saying he appreciated the resignations of the members, who live out of state.

“The state of Texas will continue to investigate ERCOT and uncover the full picture of what went wrong, and we will ensure that the disastrous events of the past week are never repeated,” the Abbott statement said in part.

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