The report below covers discussions of electric grid conditions and preparations ahead of potentially dangerous weather conditions next week at a press conference held by Governor Greg Abbott, ERCOT, RRC, and TDEM on January 12.
This report is intended to give you an overview and highlight the various topics taken up. It is not a verbatim transcript of the discussions but is based upon what was audible or understandable to the observer.
Governor Greg Abbott
- Want to get through this protecting life of every Texan by ensuring every Texan is aware of what they can do to not expose themselves to dangerous cold temperatures
- Recommendation is to stay inside instead of exposing yourself; will have warming centers in regions across Texas
- Feel very good about status of TX power grid & ERCOT
- Will be a lot of cold weather coming in beginning Saturday through Wednesday, need to be well prepared for a multi-day period of extraordinarily cold weather
- Not a lot of precipitation expected, situation is currently in our favor; there are some models showing possibly precipitation in Central and East Texas
- If there is precipitation need to take extra precautions, anyone driving needs to understand it is very dangerous & don’t go on the road if you don’t need to be
- Difficult to see ice on roads, part of precipitation would be in the form of ice & could form black ice which is impossible to see
- Precipitation can weigh on tress and other objects causing them to fall & hit powerlines
- ERCOT will work to ensure power is available during the storm, but there are chances powerlines will go down & this is an issue for the local power company
- Local power providers understand challenges they will deal with & have staff to rush getting powerlines back up again
- Two time periods, Tuesday & Wednesday morning, where power will be tightest for the ERCOT grid; power generators are prepared, inspected, & winterized for this; haven’t been this prepared beforee including secondary fuel sources
Pablo Vegas, ERCOT
- Monitoring all conditions, prepared to deal weather
- Weather will also affect other grids, nationwide cold weather event; working across the industry to support each other, including areas of Texas not covered by ERCOT
- ERCOT is expecting normal energy levels, not calling for conservation at this time, but this could change
- ERCOT has issued a weather watch due to cold conditions with high demand; can visit website to get info on weather
- Using every tool to make sure grid is prepared, grid is more prepared than before for cold weather
- Can get ice on lines that can cause outages, local utility tracks this and can view info on this view local utilities or via PUC list of utilities; adding this list to ERCOT as well
- ERCOT has completed nearly 1,800 weatherization inspections over the last couple of years, on track to do 450 this winter alone; have been working generators and transmission
- Using every tool, including conservative operation, bringing resources on early, etc.
Christi Craddick, RRC
- RRC has also done about 1,400 inspections, RRC people are ready to go as well; notices have been sent to operators
- Gas is flowing to local distribution companies; should contact local companies for outages
- Have been consistently meeting with regulated industries on potential issues, but not seeing any
- CNG trucks are on standby in some areas
- All agencies are working together
- Safety is really important, not just don’t get on the roads & stay in your house, need to be smart about using gas; safety issue for everyone
Nim Kidd, TDEM
- Life safety is first priority, second priority is protection of property
- 152 warming centers are open and operated by local gov partners; can also see these on TDEM web map
- Many places will be below freezing for 80-90 hours, has sometimes been a problem for pipes
- Texans should take opportunity today to prepare
- Shouldn’t run generator inside home, shouldn’t run car inside garage, should have ventilation when running gas or wood stoves
- Always a good time to check emergency supplies, believe everything will go smoothly from generation and distribution side, but one accident can take out powerlines
- Talking to some of the ISDs for closures on Tuesday, parents should check with ISDs for closure info
Governor Greg Abbott
- Because of ultra cold temperatures in some areas, will have much more risk in some areas for pipes; best time to take action is today or tomorrow
- Q – When do we expect to see investments into generation come online
- Gov. Abbott – Even before laws signed this last session providing economic incentives, we had more power coming onto the grid
- Over 2023 and 2024, have heard many announcements of power coming onto grid, e.g. Calpine in Houston; also have seen a massive increase in battery generation
- Dozens of projects in the early stages of announcement adding more power
- See great promise in more generation coming to TX
- Vegas, ERCOT – TX is an outstanding environment for power generation; starting to see many generators evaluate projects to advance them more quickly
- During the time power plants are constructed & built, expect to see rapid expansion of battery storage; seeing a lot of growth on renewable fleet, especially solar which is useful during summer peaks
- Q – On thermal fleet & projections for wind & solar?
- Vegas, ERCOT – Because this isn’t heavy precipitation event, expecting wind to remain strong over the next few days
- For solar, Monday is cloudy, but good performance on Tuesday and Wednesday; expecting renewable fleet to be core component of power delivery
- Q – Is TxDOT preparing roads?
- Gov. Abbott – TxDOT is engaged already in making sure roads are prepared
- Greater chance of precipitation in Central and East TX where focus is in now, but there isn’t parity in chances so TxDOT needs to be flexible to prepare roads
- TxDOT’s primary focus is safety on roadways
- Q – Comm. Craddick mentioned natural gas supplies, what about motor fuels?
- Craddick, RRC – RRC isn’t involved directly, but not anticipating any problems
- Q – Mentioned volunteer efforts?
- Kidd, TDEM – A lot of this has to do with warming centers, many volunteers staff these centers
- Q – Resources in more rural areas of the state?
- Kidd, TDEM – Right now mostly in urban areas, but as locals open centers the map will be populated
- Gov. Abbott – Certain info that public needs to know, more that media can publish about this would be helpful
- Kidd highlights the TDEM website with resources, TDEM.Texas.gov/warm
- Q – How serious is this winter storm compared to previous storms?
- Gov. Abbott – This is basically a polar vortex sitting on TX, one of the coldest we will get through
- Different than Uri in 2 ways, will not last as long & during Uri much of the state was under cloud cover and made it difficult for power fleet to operate
- One of the coldest periods in TX, will last for several days, but won’t be anything close to Uri; much more prepared for this
- Kidd, TDEM – If you have to work outside, this is dangerous cold, in Panhandle through Midland/Abilene it will be 80-90 hours of below freezing temperatures; as front comes in wind chill will be high; anything left outside will freeze & this is unusual for Texans