TEXAS — The federal government on Tuesday released its final report on the February winter storm that devastated Texas, leaving millions of people without power for extended periods and causing the deaths of at least 200 people.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s report, “The February 2021 Cold Weather Outages in Texas and the South Central United States | FERC, NERC and Regional Entity Staff Report,” among other things, recommends Texas power generator operators winterize their equipment to prevent a similar disaster in the future.
The report notes that February 2021 was not the first time something like this took place in Texas.
“The Event was the fourth cold-weather-related event in the last ten years to jeopardize BES (bulk electric system) reliability, and with a combined 23,418 MW of manual firm load shed, the largest controlled firm load shed event in U.S. history. In each of the four BES events, planned and unplanned generating unit outages caused energy emergencies, and in 2011, 2014 and 2021 they triggered the need for firm load shed,” the report reads.
The 313-page report says that power outages largely could have been avoided if power plants had been better protected from cold and ice and that more than 80% of failures happened in temperatures in which those plants were designed to operate.
While some Texas lawmakers, including Gov. Greg Abbott, have indicated enough has been done to address the issue, energy experts disagree and are adamant the power grid remains vulnerable.
“I follow this very closely. I do not have confidence we are ready for this winter. I don’t have confidence the things they’re doing are going to have us ready for next winter for that matter,” Doug Lewin, an energy consultant and the president of Stoic Energy, recently told Capital Tonight.
Among the recommendations made in the report:
- Generator Owners (GOs) identify and protect cold-weather-critical components
- GOs retrofit existing generating units, and when building new generating units, to operate to specific ambient temperatures and weather based on extreme temperature and weather data, and account for effects of precipitation and cooling effect of wind
- GOs/ Generator Operators (GOPs) perform annual training on winterization plans