Texans may be without power if a January winter storm strikes the state, says report

Should a severe weather event similar to the 2022 Winter Storm Elliott come across Texas in January, the report estimates a 16.77% chance the state's grid operator will need to order outages.

Published: November 2, 2023 2:35pm

If Texas is hit again with a winter storm in January, residents might find themselves without power, according to a monthly report from the state’s grid operator.

On Wednesday, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which is the state's grid operator, released its Monthly Outlook for Resource Adequacy report for January. The report models various scenarios to determine if the grid will have sufficient resources for monthly peak demand.

According to the models, should a severe weather event similar to the 2022 Winter Storm Elliott come across Texas in January, the risk of an emergency energy alert increases to nearly 21% during peak load hours of 8 a.m. CST. During emergency alerts, ERCOT issues warnings asking residents to reduce their electricity use. At that hour, the report estimates a 16.77% chance ERCOT will need to order outages.

“Reserve shortage risks are the highest during the morning hours when daily loads are typically at their highest (Hour Ending 8 a.m.) and just before and during the solar production ramp-up,” the report states, referring to the hour between 8 a.m. and 8:59 a.m., adding that demand increases again around 9 p.m., when solar production fades.

During Winter Storm Elliott, ERCOT was able to maintain enough resources to keep the lights on during the December storm. Winter Storm Uri, which hit the U.S. in February 2021, led to rolling blackouts across Texas, as well as 13 other states.

Approximately 3.5 million homes in Texas were without power at some point during Winter Storm Uri.

The state places the official number of deaths from Winter Storm Uri at 151 between Feb. 11 and March 5,, most of which were associated with hypothermia, carbon monoxide poisoning, motor vehicle accidents, chronic illness made worse by cold, falls and fire.

According to an analysis by Buzzfeed News, the state failed to take into account many people who died from their chronic illnesses made worse by cold as a result of Winter Storm Uri. That analysis places the number closer at over 700.

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