What Extreme Weather Events Might Impact Texas?

ERCOT describes the extreme events in this winter's SARA that would cripple the Texas grid. Find out what you need to know to be ready and safe.
ERCOT released this winter’s SARA report that also takes into account extreme winter weather events. Find out more about the unlikely series of extreme events the grid would have to face to fail.

As winter gradually sweeps in, Texans remember the bitter cold and power outages caused by Winter Storm Uri. As a result, Texans are paying close attention to the Electricity Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) winter predictions.  Last month, ERCOT released its Seasonal Assessment of Resource Adequacy, or SARA, for the coming winter 2021/2022. Unlike previous forecasts, this winter’s SARA takes into account extreme winter weather and analyzes the likelihood of extreme weather events. It also explains the Texas grid’s readiness to combat those threats. While ERCOT’s winter report warns of five extreme events, it leaves out Winter Storm Uri effects due to its entirely unprecedented nature.

Could a similar event happen this year? Yes. Is it likely? No. 

Baselines For Assessing The Threat Of Extreme Events

ERCOT studies a myriad of factors to anticipate how much electricity demand Texans will put on the power grid. Their calculations show average peak demand will be 62,001 MW with a high peak load of 72,772 MW. To meet peak load, ERCOT must maintain power reserves. It also has mechanisms in place to curb power usage when these reserves run low. 

ERCOT examined how five extreme high peak load events would impact Texas power customers: 

  1. High generation outages but expected renewable output is able to meet load.
  2. Typical generation outages and low renewable output make it hard to meet high peak load.
  3. High load with high generation outages and low renewable output causes rolling black outs.
  4. Extreme generation outages and low renewable output fails to meet high peak load. Rolling black outs.
  5. A high peak load with extreme generation outages and extreme low renewable output causes rolling black outs.

Though none of these scenarios are likely, ERCOT cites cases when extreme outages have occurred in the past three years. And while that is concerning, such incidents have not lined up with extreme cold weather events in the recent past. 

Combating Extreme Events In The ERCOT Winter Report

Those mechanisms ERCOT has to thwart extreme cold weather include calling on all available suppliers to send power, shutting off power to large industrial users, and implementing rolling blackouts. ERCOT can manage all five extreme events with these tools. While rolling blackouts are no fun for customers, they typically last for just 15 to 45 minutes at a time. This load shedding would be necessary in scenarios 3, 4, and 5. 

Electricity Plans For All Seasons

No matter what the cold season holds for Texas, you need an electricity plan to power your home. The plans shown at https://www.texaselectricityratings.com offer competitive prices from reputable retail electricity providers. So shop here to find the plan that best meets your household power needs.

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