Power outages can be a true inconvenience, no matter where you live. In recent years, blackouts have been happening all over the U.S., especially in California. But in Texas, they’re downright dangerous. In February 2021, the Winter Storm Uri shook the country when energy powerhouse Texas left many without their utilities. Since then, there’s been a growing concern about energy consumption and the Texas power grid’s ability to provide for its consumers.
With a frosty winter around the corner, Texans are aching to learn about what alternative solutions are out there in case of another polar vortex. Believe it or not, you can protect your home from power outages in the face of a stressed-out power grid.
Let’s take a look at what went wrong with the Texas power infrastructure and how it simply comes up short.
State of the Power: The ERCOT Texas Power Grid
During the February 2021 winter storm, the biggest power grid in Texas tripped for six hours, leaving millions without power. This forced many hospitals and emergency rooms, as well as residential homes, to depend solely on backup power. Days after, the state still struggled to recover its strength.
As a result, ERCOT, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, instituted rolling blackouts to bring the supply and demand for electricity back into balance. Moreover, ERCOT called on customers to reduce their electricity use in order to conserve energy. As it stands, the demand for energy is constantly overwhelming the Texas power grid.
Since Texas isn’t connected to the 120,000 miles of the North American power transmission grid, neighboring states couldn’t lend a hand during the outages.
Why Does Texas Have Its Own Power Grid?
There’s a reason the state of Texas is called the “Lone Star State.” The Texas power grid is off doing its own independent thing. And Texans pay the price for that. Texas has been referred to as “an electrical island.” The state has maintained its own power grids in order to remain independent from federal regulation.
The above-mentioned ERCOT generates 90% of the state’s electrical power. This production serves about 26 million Texan residents. The rest of Texas, El Paso, parts of East Texas, and the upper Panhandle, operate on their own, smaller grids. Texas is one of the highest energy producers in the company, but with great generation comes great demand. The isolation is one of the factors that leaves Texas more vulnerable to power outages.
Why Did Texas Electric Grid Fail?
The Texas electric grid failed for several reasons. Here are a few:
- Extreme Weather Conditions
- Limited Capacity for Generation
- Inadequate Source of Power
Let’s take a closer look.
Extreme Weather Conditions
Namely, an unprecedented natural disaster has simply overwhelmed the electrical grid. In a report conducted by ERCOT, data cites a striking amount of weather-related outages as a major cause. In a recent proposal from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, recommendations about properly winterizing equipment and power plants were outlined. Texas’ isolation from federal regulations and a failure to heed these warnings might’ve contributed to the mass power failure.
Read more on these weatherization requirements for critical infrastructure further down.
Limited Capacity for Generation
At the height of capacity during the summer, Texas has the ability to produce about 86,000 megawatts of electricity. In the winter, the grid can only generate about 67,000 megawatts. When the demand for power rises, the Texas power grid struggles to meet it. During the Big Freeze, the weather impacted the power plants’ ability to generate energy.
For instance, studies revealed that natural gas production dropped by 45%. As a result, the Texas electric grid was unable to meet the electricity needs of its residents. Coincidentally, a massive power outage resulted.
Inadequate Source of Power
Currently, the power grid runs on exhaustible fossil fuels. If any state’s power grid is overstressed, last winter in Texas was just a taste of the horrors in store. This way of producing energy forces climate change and pollution to take over the world as we know it. Additionally, the antiquated system of natural gas facilities has consistently been failing to meet consumers needs at peak demand.
More Ways to Power
Until more cities can commit to 100% renewable energy goals, our power infrastructure will continue to struggle as temperature reaches extreme highs and lows. Anxiety around climate change might be justified, but it doesn’t mean we’re standing by, and you don’t have to either. There are more ways to generate power to meet the electricity demand.
Power Grid Reform
There’s still time for a change. State lawmakers have decided to approve some Texas legislation in an attempt to rectify the issues. Many Texas power generation companies are called to the carpet. In June 2021, Governor Greg Abbott, signed Senate Bills 2 and 3 to significantly improve the condition of the Texas grid. It requires that ERCOT completes all preparations for the upcoming winter season by December 1st.
If the grid operator fails to meet these standards, they face substantial penalties from The Public Utility Commission of Texas (or PUC). That means you can anticipate some great changes to the grid coming your way.
Texas Solar Energy Production with the Backup You Need
The Lone Star State doesn’t have to be a lone ranger this winter, fighting off the extreme cold weather with an unreliable power source. The Texas solar energy production is taking the state by storm. As a state with one of the highest amounts of wind energy generation, Texas ambitiously seeks to increase and incorporate solar into their power infrastructure.
Texas solar investment totals to about $13 billion with enough solar energy to power almost 1.3 million homes.
Subsequently, alternative sources of energy are becoming more prevalent in today’s world. With a renewable energy source, like solar, there’s more than enough power to cover grid demand. What’s even better are the many financial incentives for going solar and generating clean, renewable energy.
Don’t wait on officials or electric providers to decide your fate! It’s time to take your power back. Whether you’re interested in sustainability or don’t want to worry about what happens when the lights go out, solar panels with a battery backup are the perfect solution to a stressed out grid. Solar panel batteries, like the Enphase Enchage for instance, can keep your home powered up during a power outage or grid failure.
With technological advances and increased affordability, now’s as good a time as ever to go solar! Contact a Solar Energy Specialist today and get resiliency for your home.