WORLD / AMERICAS
Power grid in U.S. Texas minutes away from catastrophic failure during winter storm: ERCOT
Published: Feb 25, 2021 09:20 AM

Vehicles move on a snow-capped road in Houston, Texas, the United States, on Feb. 15, 2021.(Photo: Xinhua)


 
The U.S. state of Texas was dangerously close to a long-term outage during last week's severe winter storm, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) said Wednesday.

According to documents released during an ERCOT emergency meeting on Wednesday, the Texas grid was under significantly more stress than previously thought.

In the most dangerous part of the night on Feb. 14 when the storm came to the state, grid operators were four minutes and 37 seconds away from a large-scale grid "trip," which would have led to automatic shutdowns of certain circuits.

If that had happened, millions of Texas customers would have had a long-term outage as technicians would have to do a "black start" of generation facilities. That could have taken weeks, leaving Texans in the dark.

The documents showed that half of the state's power generation capability was knocked offline due to the extreme cold at the peak.

Significant power generation was offline for more than 48 hours before power facilities could begin powering back up, according to ERCOT data. The majority of the power that went offline was natural gas facilities, the council said.

As of Wednesday, six board members of the ERCOT are resigning. ERCOT is the agency tasked with managing most of the Texas power grid which is largely isolated from the rest of the country's power grid.

Last week, a severe winter storm brought massive blackouts to the southern U.S. state. So far, dozens of deaths have been reported due to the extreme weather.
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