DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The record-cold snap in Texas continues to leave between two and three million residents without power and state leaders demanding answers from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the state’s power grid operator.
While ERCOT has prepared the state’s power grid for heat waves, Bruce Bullock, Director of the Maguire Energy Institute at SMU, said it has not adequately prepared the state’s power grid for the extended bitter cold happening now.READ MORE: Former Dallas Police Chief Renee Hall Explains Why No Action Was Ever Taken Against Officer Bryan Riser, Now Charged With Capital Murder
And he said ERCOT needs to solve this for the long-term.
“Why we got ourselves into this situation in the first place. Can we winterize this grid more robustly and how much is that going to cost and are we willing to pay that price?”
Bullock said one big issue is that some of the state’s natural gas powered plants went offline in the bitter cold either because of mechanical problems or because they didn’t have the fuel to operate their plants.
In addition, Bullock said half of the turbines that produce wind power froze, but that ERCOT doesn’t rely on this energy source as much in the winter.READ MORE: Gov. Greg Abbott Responds To Criticism For Ending Mask Mandate, Fully Reopening Texas: 'There's Never Going To Be Uniform Agreement On This'
Bullock said the other issue is that experts have previously warned ERCOT that it needs to invest more in new capacity.
“With the growth in the state that’s been coming, we’ve been advocating a look at the system to encourage more development of generation resources.”
While many Texans have lost power for days, others have experienced controlled outages.
Bullock said those controlled outages are preventing a bigger problem. “If they don’t do this in a very controlled and systematic way, then they risk larger term damage to the poles, wires, and substations and things of that nature which takes weeks to repair.”
Weeks, he said instead of days it’s taking now.MORE NEWS: Visit Fort Worth Launches Campaign Promoting Businesses That Encourage Mask-Wearing
Governor Abbott announced Tuesday, Feb. 16, that reforming ERCOT is now an emergency priority of his and he’s asking state lawmakers to investigate.