Factors That Led to the Texas Winter Power Disaster
The following events led to the Texas Winter Power Disaster.
An incomplete chain of command. The governor does not have direct control over the Load Forecaster, ERCOT. ERCOT does not have authority over Power Generators or Transmission Owners.
The authority for power in Texas is the Texas Public Utilities Commission. In times of crisis, none of their officials are brought into the spotlight. Representatives from other agencies bear the brunt of public discourse, yet they have the least insight and no power to correct systemic issues.
There is no follow through on lessons learned from prior crisis events. Power Generators that experience extreme weather conditions routinely fail like clockwork, are still part of the power grid. Legislation passed to require a baseline state of readiness through weatherization for Power Generators, is forgotten. The Lt. Governor and the Texas Public Utilities commission are responsible for this follow-up. Neither of those have been in the public eye during this crisis.
A lack of “elastic” power sources. The decisions to move to green energy in the form of reduced carbon emissions and other contaminants, are done in a vacuum. When Load Shedding must occur, ERCOT has their options significantly reduced, in order to maintain compliance. Power output from sources such as wind turbines are highly variable and not suited for nominal power requirements or emergency situations. ERCOT foresaw issues relating to green energy compliance for this emergency and requested the restrictions to be temporarily lifted. That request was denied in part.
Power Generators are not confined to selling energy in the Texas market. In times of crisis, energy prices are at a premium. When a disaster is affecting multiple states and agencies, there is contention for power resources. No policies are in place that limit this strategy, even in times of severe energy hardship for The State of Texas.
Please notice I do not list “record” temperature extremes and conditions. Government and energy officials were already aware of the potential for adverse weather events. Load forecasting by nature considers weather conditions. An inability to navigate changing weather conditions signals incompetence in serving the residents of The State of Texas.