Texas’ power grid was “seconds and minutes” away from a catastrophic failure that could have left Texans in the dark for months, officials with the entity that operates the grid said Thursday.
The decision grid operators made early Monday morning to begin what was intended to be rolling blackouts — but have lasted days for millions of Texans — occurred because operators were seeing warning signs that massive amounts of energy supply was dropping off the grid. As natural gas fired plants, utility scale wind power and coal plants tripped offline due to the extreme cold brought by the winter storm, the amount of power supplied to the grid to be distributed across the state fell rapidly.
At the same time, need was increasing as consumers and businesses turned up the heat and stayed inside to avoid the weather. Grid operators had to act quickly to cut the amount of power distributed, Electric Reliability Council of Texas president Bill Magness said, because if they had waited, “then what happens in that next minute might be that three more [power generation] units come offline, and then you’re sunk.”
Magness said on Wednesday that if operators had not acted in that moment, the state could have suffered blackouts that “could have occurred for months” and left Texas in an “indeterminately long” crisis. The worst case scenario: Demand for power overwhelms the supply of power generation available on the grid, causing equipment to catch fire, substations to blow, power lines to go down.
Experts say Texas’ elected leaders failed to heed warnings that left the state's power grid vulnerable to winter extremes. Read more by tapping the link in our bio.