What’s changed since February 2021 to prevent another power grid failure? KSAT Explains
After the snow and ice of February 2021 had melted and power and water service finally returned, catastrophe turned to criticism. Lawmakers and power providers have since gone to work in hopes that it doesn't happen again.
Chainsaws and dry socks: Austinites step up for neighbors during ice storm
Friends in North Austin removed downed trees from neighbors’ roofs, while closer to the city core, volunteers rushed to meet the immediate needs of people without homes — those most severely impacted by the freezing temperatures.
Gov. Greg Abbott touts Texas power grid’s readiness heading into fall, election season
The governor shared the favorable forecast — which is normal for the fall months — ahead of a competitive race in which the grid’s performance during last year’s fatal winter storm may factor into Texans’ decisions at the polls.
ERCOT CEO concerned about older machines’ reliability in Texas summer heat, report says
In an interview with the Houston Chronicle, ERCOT Interim president and CEO Brad Jones said forecasters for the organization did not anticipate the extreme heat and projected on the hottest day of summer that the grid demand would reach 77,300 megawatts.
Ex-ERCOT chief testifies that Gov. Abbott’s order led to energy price hike during storm: report
While testifying in a bankruptcy trial for a Texas electric co-op, the state’s former grid manager said Gov. Greg Abbott’s directive led them to keep power price points high during last year’s winter storm, according to a Houston Chronicle report.
Winter storm issues exposed a cascade of scandals at CPS Energy in 2021
While February’s deadly winter storm not only left hundreds of thousands of San Antonio residents without power in subfreezing temperatures, some for days on end, it also exposed a large number of organizational issues within CPS Energy, the largest public power company in the nation.
Analysis: Betting a Texas election on a weather forecast
Gov. Greg Abbott says he can "guarantee" there won't be blackouts this winter in Texas after one that knocked out power for some people for four days last February. That's the kind of pre-election prediction that can make a weather forecaster more useful than a political poll.
Texas grid vulnerable to blackouts during severe winter weather, even with new preparations, ERCOT estimates show
The most severe scenario considered by ERCOT for this winter — very high demand for power, extensive fossil fuel outages, and low renewable power production — does not capture the amount of power lost during February.
4 things we’ve learned since February’s deadly winter storm
It’s been six months since the deadly February winter storm left millions across the state without power for days, and many questions about what went wrong remain unanswered. The KSAT Explains team and the Defenders have been closely following the fallout of the storm. We take a look at four things we've learned so far.
ERCOT will have to release information about power plant outages quicker — but it may not detail what causes them
The Public Utility Commission said the state's main power grid operator will have three days — instead of 60 — to release some information about power plant outages. But that may not include why the electricity generators were offline.
San Antonio Emergency Preparedness Committee member gives sneak peak of winter storm response findings
The city of San Antonio is hoping the final findings of the February winter storm’s response efforts are polished before being released, which is why the date of release is now June 24 instead of June 15.
ERCOT names new, temporary leader two months after deadly winter storm
The board overseeing the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the independent nonprofit entity that operates and manages the electricity grid that covers much of Texas, named former executive Brad Jones on Tuesday to be interim president and CEO.
‘Caught flat-footed’: Energy experts, lawsuits claim CPS has itself to blame for $700 million in natural gas bills
As CPS Energy continues to file lawsuits against entities it claims contributed to massive natural gas bills it racked up during February’s winter storm, energy experts and officials from some the companies targeted by the suits say the utility’s poor risk management is to blame.
Almost 70% of ERCOT customers lost power during winter storm, study finds
As the updated death toll from February’s winter storm reached 111 deaths last week, the severity of its full force has continued to come into focus. AdThe Electric Reliability Council of Texas manages the state’s main power grid, which represents 90% of Texas’ electric load and serves more than 26 million customers, according to the agency. Black Texans were “modestly more likely” to have lost power than white Texans, according to the study. The company wants lawmakers to create a revenue stream to Berkshire through an additional charge on Texans’ power bills. Ad“In 2011, when we were asking questions about that winter storm, we were receiving promises and commitments that winterization would occur so that sort of thing wouldn't happen again,” he said.
Congress questions Texas officials about power grid failure
Congress is looking into the cause of the power blackouts across Texas last month. A House panel planned to hear Wednesday, March 24, 2021, from officials who oversee the state's energy industry and electric grid. (AP Photo/LM Otero File)DALLAS – Congress is looking into last month’s massive and deadly power outages across Texas and questioning officials who oversee the state’s energy industry and electric grid. After outages in February 2011, Robb’s group recommended that Texas power plants needed better protection against winter storms. AdHouston Mayor Sylvester Turner said the Texas grid was designed for peak summer heat, and policymakers wrongly believed that the 2011 severe winter storm was an anomaly.
Paperwork failures worsened Texas blackouts, sparking mid-storm scramble to restore critical fuel supply
A PUC spokesperson said Walker was “ceaselessly” on the phone, calling Nye about dozens of natural gas facilities that weren't on Oncor’s “critical” list. “There were phone calls every day.”By Wednesday, Feb. 17, natural gas supply in the state hit its lowest point during the storm, experts said. The Texas Energy Reliability Council — a voluntary body with no regulatory authority — usually meets twice a year. AdReliance on electricity, however, made the state’s electric power system a loop rather than a chain: Electricity relied on natural gas production, and natural gas production relied on electricity. So when demand for natural gas spiked during the frigid weather, homes got natural gas and some power plants didn’t, he said.
What state lawmakers from San Antonio think caused Texas blackouts and how to prevent in future
As temperatures plunged and snow and ice whipped the state, much of Texas' power grid collapsed, followed by its water systems. Currently, the Texas power market operates as “energy-only,” which encourages scarcity because generators are paid only when they provide power. “I absolutely think that the decision to deregulate Texas’ power grid was a mistake. At the state level, Texas should have created some type of emergency fund or plan to prepare for a winter storm. “By deregulating Texas’ power grid from others in the U.S. state leaders left us vulnerable and literally in the dark.
We asked San Antonio, Bexar County officials what went wrong and needs to change after winter disaster
Bexar County Judge Nelson WolffWhat could have been done differently at the local level to better prepare for and respond to the deadly storm? “ERCOT, the manager of the state energy grid, forced CPS Energy to shed load during the long freeze event, which was the root cause of the outages in our community. We must also examine backup generators for water pumping stations.”AdDo you believe state leaders’ decision to deregulate Texas’ power grid was a mistake? “The deregulation of the state power grid answers the call of a market-based economy. We need: better communication; better coordination; and better preparation.
Texas company behind huge electricity bills seeks bankruptcy
The company that drew attention after sending huge electricity bills to customers after last month’s blackout-causing winter storm in Texas has filed for bankruptcy protection. Its rates skyrocketed during the February deep freeze, when state grid operators raised wholesale prices. The company blamed its situation on the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which operates the power grid in most of the state. Griddy’s bankruptcy plan proposes to waive claims against customers for charges they incurred from Feb. 15 through Feb. 19, while the $9,000 per megawatt hour price for wholesale power was in effect. Griddy is the third company to seek bankruptcy protection due to the storm, after Brazos Electric Power Cooperative Inc. and Canadian natural gas provider Just Energy Group.
CPS Energy sues ERCOT over exorbitant energy prices during Texas winter storm
SAN ANTONIO – CPS Energy on Friday sued the Electric Reliability Council of Texas after an independent monitor for the Public Utility Commission reported the grid managers overcharged power companies during the winter storm. In the lawsuit, CPS Energy accused ERCOT of not paying what it owes to the San Antonio utility. “ERCOT has short paid approximately $2.5 billion to the market participants, and at least $18 million is owed to CPS Energy for the Winter Storm Event,” according to the court filing. “CPS Energy is taking this action to defend its customers. Price charts for the natural gas spot market show natural gas increased nearly two-fold Feb. 11, before spiking Feb. 17.
After Texas’ power grid failure, some in Lubbock worry about the city’s plans to join ERCOT
Lubbock officials initially planned to join ERCOT once its 15-year-long contract with Xcel Energy, a member of the Southwestern Public Service Company, expires. Spencer lives in Lubbock, one of the few areas of the state not connected to Texas’ independent power grid. AdThe failures of Texas’ independent power grid have led to some counties mulling a way out. Lubbock officials initially planned to join ERCOT once its 15-year-long contract with Xcel Energy, a member of the Southwestern Public Service Company, expires. Lubbock City Councilperson Jeff Griffith he still feels confident Lubbock will move forward with the plans to join ERCOT.
Texas utility regulator says ERCOT overcharged power companies by far less than $16 billion cited by watchdog group
Credit: Sergio Flores for The Texas TribuneThe state’s energy grid operator overcharged power companies by roughly $3 billion after the winter storm, the chairman of Texas’ utility regulator said Thursday, pushing back on a previous report from an agency watchdog that said the companies were overcharged by $16 billion. But a letter submitted Thursday by Potomac Economics repeated that ERCOT overcharged companies by $16 billion. AdIt is still unclear whether and how this overcharge directly affects Texas electricity customers, however many power companies have taken a significant financial hit. In Texas, wholesale power prices are determined by supply and demand: When demand is high, ERCOT allows prices to go up. During the storm, the PUC directed the grid operator to set wholesale power prices at $9,000 per megawatt-hour — the maximum price.
Public Utility Commission of Texas, ERCOT hold meetings Friday to discuss winter storm response
The Public Utility Commission of Texas will have an open meeting on Friday morning to discuss the Electric Reliability Council of Texas and other topics related to electricity and water following last month’s deadly winter storm. The PUC meeting is scheduled to take place at 9:30 a.m. According to PUC, the meeting will touch on electric reliability, the electric market development, ERCOT oversight, cost recovery in areas outside of ERCOT, and electric reliability standards and organizations arising under federal law. According to Potomac Economics, an independent market monitor for the PUC, ERCOT kept the price of power too high after the outages ended. His outrage has not extended to the state’s PUC, which oversees ERCOT and is led by Abbott appointees.