EnergyStatewide NewsGovernor Abbott Calls for ‘Greater Transparency’ From ERCOT in Update on Texas Blackout

The state and its energy grid continue to struggle to keep its residents' lights on during a rarely before seen winter storm.
February 17, 2021
Governor Greg Abbott took aim at the Electric Reliability Council of Texas’ (ERCOT) transparency at a press conference on Wednesday.

Abbott said that ERCOT has not provided to him estimated times when certain zip codes can expect power to come back on.

“It’s kind of opaque and one thing people need from ERCOT is greater transparency across the State of Texas,” he stated.

Apparently, due to threats from individuals, ERCOT removed the names of its board members from its website on Wednesday.

There is still 37,000 megawatts (MW) of typical electricity generation offline due to weather conditions, according to Abbott.

The Texan Tumbler

Texas’ main grid continues to struggle to meet demand across the state as blackouts stretch into their third continuous day. Currently, the grid is supplying 15,000 to 25,000 MW of electricity less than it typically does during normal times.

One MW can power between 500 and 650 homes.

The demand surge coupled with supply failures has created a blizzard-like emergency throughout Texas.

Of the unavailable production, offline natural gas generators account for 53 percent while the rest comes from renewable sources.

“Right now there still remains about 10,000 megawatts that is off the grid and as a result is not contributing to power in the state,” Abbott said of available capacity on the grid that is not being delivered to customers.

Abbott warned that more precipitation and severely cold weather is expected to sweep through the southern part of Texas, going as far north as Austin. But, he added, the main storm that caused the bulk of the disaster is on its way out of the state.

Since midnight on Wednesday, Abbott said the state has added 6,000 MW back onto the grid from various sources of energy.

The duration and location of outages are determined by the local utilities companies with the exception of a few large providers that are ordered by ERCOT to cut a percentage of their load from the grid. From there, those utility companies determine the locations of forced blackouts.

When making those decisions, utility companies prioritize critical infrastructure such as hospitals. 

Abbott added, “An order has been made to ensure that everybody that is subject to regulation by the PUC will have access to power on at least a rotating basis during the remaining time period until power is fully up and running.”

ERCOT said Wednesday they hope to move the prolonged outages back to 15- to 30-minute  “rotating” outages by Thursday. There are still 2.6 million customers out of power across the state.

A new order by the governor will prohibit natural gas suppliers from shipping their product outside of Texas until February 21 in order to address any supply shortage.

The governor then warned Texans with frozen or broken pipes to take precautions for the next few days by turning off the flow of water to their homes to avoid flooding. He also encouraged the public to work ahead of time with plumbers and insurance companies to address plumbing and water damage.

As for the roads, the state says 4,500 Texas Department of Transportation employees are in the field trying to improve travel conditions.


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Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.