Abbott and other state officials said that despite the weather, the power grid is operating fine, meeting electricity demand without any issues at the moment. According to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT)’s tracking system, there is currently a 20,000 megawatt (MW) surplus of capacity available, about 40 percent of which is dedicated to reserves.
That reserve capacity is double the amount kept during the initial brunt of last year’s grid collapse, a result of the reforms made by ERCOT.
The total capacity available is roughly 15,000 MW higher than the point at which blackouts were instituted last year. ERCOT President Brad Jones said that no generation is offline right now due to cold weather problems, which was a primary catalyst for last year’s collapse. He attributed this to the winterization efforts by the roughly 300 generation facilities that faltered last February.
It is also due to the fact that the weather event — in temperature, precipitation, and scope across the state — is not close to last year’s severity.
The grid’s peak demand is expected to come Friday morning, and the surplus generation estimate by the state for then dropped from 15,000 MW to 10,000 MW after the forecast changed.
Additionally, because icing predictions out in West Texas turned out to be not as severe, the wind generation expectation for that period has improved, Jones said.
While the grid is currently in a good spot, there are 69,000 households without power across the state. For comparison, 4.4 million Texans lost power during the first day of the blackouts last year.
The outages this week are largely due to downed power lines from icing or fallen branches, and they are local outages that must be fixed by transmission companies. Abbott said that 10,000 linemen are out fixing those problems, with another 2,000 on the way from out-of-state.
To facilitate the interstate workers’ ability to help, Abbott signed a proclamation temporarily eliminating some regulations.
Another update Abbott provided was that 2,900 facilities important for electricity generation across the state have been designated critical infrastructure. Last year, many such facilities had their power cut off during load-shedding, which exacerbated the problem that was spiraling out of control.
That figure is a substantial increase from that which Abbott provided on Wednesday, when he said the total was 1,500.
“The Texas electric grid is the most reliable and resilient [as] it’s ever been,” Abbott concluded.
Officials again warned about the dangerous road conditions caused by ice and freezing rain and suggested Texans stay off the roads if possible. Check road conditions across the state at drivetexas.org.
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Brad Johnson is 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.