Jan 23, 2024 - News

How Texas' grid fared in the latest freeze test

A Texas power substation

A substation in Dallas on Jan. 16. Photo: Shelby Tauber/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Solar power helped keep the lights on during the latest Arctic blast in Texas.

Why it matters: Texas' grid has been vulnerable to winter and summer weather extremes and has faced intense scrutiny since mass power outages during a historic multi-day winter storm in February 2021 contributed to hundreds of deaths, writes Axios' Jacob Knutson.

The latest: Last week's freeze was the state's second-longest winter storm in the past 15 years and its third coldest, Woody Rickerson, an ERCOT senior vice president and its COO, said during a public utilities meeting on Thursday.

  • Rickerson said surplus energy from solar generation throughout the storm helped charge batteries and gave operators a chance to correct issues at thermal plants.

By the numbers: Energy demand soared as temperatures in Austin and other Texas cities fell into the mid-20s and then teens beginning a week ago Sunday.

  • Peak demand last Tuesday will likely be the state's third highest, being around 7,370 megawatts lower than the all-time record set in August 2023.

Details: Later that afternoon, Texas set a new solar power generation record, with panels contributing 14,835 megawatts to the grid, or around 20% of the total generated power at the time.

The bottom line: "The fact we got through this without really any major issues I think should give some confidence that the system can survive the 'normal' extreme weather events," Joshua Rhodes, a research scientist at the University of Texas who examines energy issues, tells Axios.

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