Texas leaders on arctic blast: 'The power grid is ready and reliable'

Governor Greg Abbott and other Texas leaders say we can have faith in the power grid as an arctic blast will drop temperatures statewide to dangerous lows.

Gov. Abbott and the leaders of the PUC and ERCOT said they plan to have enough power generated to avoid any major outages despite the potential for the coldest temperatures we've had since that disastrous 2021 winter storm

Their main message: the system is shored up and should be able to stand up to power demand during the coming weather event. All hands and resources are on deck.

"The grid is ready and reliable," said Public Utility Commission Chairman Peter Lake at the news conference from the State Operations Center in Austin.

Lake said the expected high winds could knock over tree branches onto power lines and lead to small power outages in areas, but a widespread failure should be avoided.

Lake added that Texas has more power available than ever before and more backup fuel. If necessary, he said the state will ask businesses who are part of the demand response program to cut back before citizens are asked to conserve. Plus, there is increased staffing at power plants.

ERCOT's current load forecast shows that the highest demand for power will be Friday morning, when temperatures in North Texas will be close to 10 degrees.

Leaders from the PUC and ERCOT credited new procedures put in place since 2021 for putting the state in a better position to handle this week's cold weather.

The freeze in 2021 killed more than 200 people and pushed the grid to the brink of total failure.

READ MORE: How this week's arctic blast compares to the deadly Feb. 2021 freeze

Leaders say the lack of precipitation in this storm and a shorter period of time below freezing makes it much less dangerous than the 2021 storm, but there is still a potential that this could be dangerous.

ERCOT CEO Pablo Vegas expects demand to soar.

"The highest demands during this period we expect are going to occur on Friday morning," he said. "We expect that to hit near 70,000 megawatts."

Vegas says with all available resources, the state should have 85,000 megawatts of supply on hand.

"With wind and solar during those peaks making up around 12,000 watts of that," he said.

ERCOT issued a watch on Wednesday to prepare generators for a potential need for increased demand.

"This is a dangerous storm coming our way," said Texas Division of Emergency Management Chief Nim Kidd. "As you've heard the grid is good, but that should not stop you from making plans to protect your home from these dangerous weather conditions and have your vehicles ready as well.

The wind chill is supposed to reach -10 degrees in the DFW area and will fall as low as -30 in the Panhandle.

The state says it is also taking steps to be sure people are able to get around during the cold blast.

"There will be certain areas that will get some precipitation and the Texas Department of Transportation is taking the lead to make sure that those roads will be adequately addressed," Gov. Abbott said.

READ MORE: Steps you need to take to protect your home from this week's arctic blast

The Texas Department of Emergency Management also launched a site to make it easy to find warming centers if they are needed. 

Abbott acknowledged that many Texas will still be skeptical about the power grid.

"I think trust will be earned over the next few days as people see that we have ultra-cold, ultra-cold temperatures," he said. "The grid is going to be able to perform with ease, and so trust has to be earned back over a period of time."

The governor pointed out that the grid did not fail through 11 record -breaking events this summer, and that was the start of earning trust again.