Texas power grid should withstand arctic weather without major outages, ERCOT says

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas says it does not expect any major outages despite the potential for the coldest temperatures we've had since that disastrous 2021 winter storm.

Managers of the state’s power grid say that's because the temperatures won't stay as cold for as long, and ice isn't a factor this time around.

Dallas weather: Freezing temperatures ahead as arctic air comes to North Texas

ERCOT managers believe there will be enough capacity to handle an increase in demand during expected sub-freezing temperatures later this week.

ERCOT CEO Pablo Vegas during a board meeting Tuesday said they have run through all sorts of scenarios, both good and bad.

We expect that high demand period to occur on Friday morning," he said. "There's a low probability scenario where there's very high peak load and extreme outages of generation units and extremely low wind that shows that there could be a shortfall. But again, this is a very low probability scenario."

ERCOT says it's ready for increased demand on power grid as temperature could drop next week

University of Houston Energy Fellow Ed Hirs says while there have been mandatory requirements of weatherization for power plants and natural gas infrastructure, there’s still work to do on a system he believes is dated.

"We should have enough resources available on the grid. But keep in mind, the coal plants are 50 years old, and the natural gas-powered plants average 30 years in age," he said. "We’re now two years out. At best, we’re gonna be two to four years out for any implementation of what really is just a band aid. But Texans are now seeing what the full price is of ignoring infrastructure investment over many years."

The freeze in 2021 killed more than 200 people and pushed the grid to the brink of total failure. ERCOT’s new managers believe this artic blast will be different.

"So we continue to expect adequate supply with reserves for the approaching cold weather conditions," Vegas said.

How to protect your home from this week's arctic blast

But the grid operator needs more resources moving forward.

"The dispatchable gap that is growing between ever increasing load and dispatchable generation is a real issue and is widening," Vegas admitted.

ERCOT has added a new dashboard to its website with real-time info about which sources of energy are powering the grid.