Texas Cold Snap Could Push Power Demand To Levels Near Historic 2021 Storm

by Liz Holland

Texas is preparing for an intense cold snap later this week. The state is expecting the front to bring snow, ice, and subfreezing temperatures to the area. Representatives at the agency that regulates the Texas Power Grid say they expect the weather to push electricity demand to levels comparable to what they saw during the historic 2021 winter storm. However, systems are more efficiently equipped this time around.

Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) officials completed inspections at over 300 facilities. Upon completion, they confirmed that the state’s power grid is in good condition earlier this month. Brad Jones, the companies’ current CEO said that “the Texas electric grid is more prepared for winter operations than ever before.”

Additionally, one energy analyst told FOX 4 that power generators should be plenty capable of handling the upcoming cold. Bruce Bullock, a professor at Southern Methodist University’s Maguire Energy Institute, explains. He tells FOX 4 that officials have inspected all the large power generators for weatherization. He adds that companies who failed to meet their December deadline paid fines. “So, I think right now, based upon the forecast we see and based upon what we know, they are going to be in pretty good shape,” the professor shares.

Historic 2021 Storm Left Texans Without Power

The last time Texas experienced widespread cold like this was during a February 2021 storm. The disaster left hundreds of thousands without power and water for days. For many, the conditions were deadly. Affected Texans had no heat source during some of the coldest weather Texas had seen in 10 years. Many were unable to access community resources as snow buildup trapped them inside their powerless homes. Over 200 people died during the catastrophic storm. 

Following the disaster, officials established new regulations. These new rules ensure power-providing facilities are better equipped to deal with extreme cold. Additionally, lawmakers increased fines for violating winterization rules to $1 million per day, per violation. 

One of the reasons last year’s storm was so fatal was due to the surprise factor. The state is prepared to face that bitter weather this time.

Texas Officials Say They’re Ready This Time

In a statement to The Hill, ERCOT explained why the grid is reliable. They say they’re confident it can continue to meet the demand for energy that this cold snap will call for. “Because of the landmark reforms by the Texas Legislature and implemented by the Public Utility Commission, the grid is more resilient and reliable than it has ever been,” the statement said. “ERCOT is confident it will be able to meet electric demand as a result of the rigorous new preparation and resiliency requirements.”

Texas Public Utility Commission Chairman Peter Lake assured Texans last month that their power will stay connected throughout the winter. “The ERCOT grid is stronger and more reliable than ever,” Lake said. “We go into this winter knowing that because of all these efforts the lights will stay on.”