Energy Reporting

— Texas Power Outage Crisis —

In the early morning hours of Feb. 15, 2021, electric power generation rapidly began to drop offline in Texas. Record-low temperatures, forcing power plants to trip, combined with a shortage of natural gas fuel for those plants caused the state’s grid operator to order outages. But the outages extended from hours to days, leaving more than 4.8 million homes and businesses without power and killing dozens of people throughout the state as electric power generators struggled to get plants back online. It is estimated as the most costly disaster in state history.

Texas largely relies on natural gas for power. It wasn’t ready for the extreme cold.

Texas largely relies on natural gas — especially during times of high demand — to power the state. Experts say natural gas infrastructure, from pumping it out of the ground to the plants in city centers, was unprepared for the plunging temperatures brought by the winter storm. (Texas Tribune, Feb. 16, 2021)

Texas leaders failed to heed warnings that left the state’s power grid vulnerable to winter extremes, experts say

Texas officials knew winter storms could leave the state’s power grid vulnerable, but they left the choice to prepare for harsh weather up to the power companies — many of which opted against the costly upgrades. That, plus a deregulated energy market largely isolated from the rest of the country’s power grid, left the state alone to deal with the crisis, experts said. (Texas Tribune, Feb. 17, 2021)

Texas was “seconds and minutes” away from catastrophic monthslong blackouts, officials say

Officials with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas said that grid operators implemented blackouts to avoid a catastrophic failure that could have left Texans in the dark for months. (Texas Tribune, Feb. 18, 2021)

Oil and gas interests left to “self-regulate” in aftermath of winter storm as Texas politicians pile on to ERCOT

Politically powerful natural gas production companies appear to have so far escaped the wrath of the governor and the Legislature in the aftermath of the Texas power outages. (Texas Tribune, March 5, 2021)

Paperwork failures worsened Texas blackouts, sparking mid-storm scramble to restore critical fuel supply

Utilities cut electricity to natural gas facilities at the very moment that electric power plants most needed fuel. The mid-storm scramble to fix the problem exposed a regulatory blind spot. (Texas Tribune, March 18, 2021)