Questions remain after the agency that regulates most of Texas’ energy supply warned customers of a potential emergency earlier this week.
Many that saw that warning may have been surprised since it's springtime right now, and the weather is usually mild. ERCOT said in a statement on Wednesday that it’s usually during this time of year that generating units require maintenance.
In fact, ERCOT said that about 33,000 MW of generation is out of service. This shows just how vulnerable we truly are. A few reasons why, experts are saying, are poor planning, and that our state continues to operate the power grid on an island instead of being hooked up to larger grid operators.
Energy experts say that although Texas is great at importing and exporting other forms of energy, why the state is not willing to do the same with electricity is playing with fire.
They say that Texas hasn’t built enough lines connecting into major cities, and there are times when power prices can be near zero when it’s really windy but through the roof in another part of the state.
Experts also say there is a lack of incentive for generators to operate in the state so they would rather leave even though the population is growing, and that generators need to be able to receive funding at times when they are not needed.
ERCOT explained that the warning from this week went out in an effort to be more transparent, and explained why it was necessary.
"You only have a short window of time to allow the unit to come offline. They need to be ready to run this summer. And so following the winter months they typically come offline during our spring season, which is March, April, May, and then they’re expected to be ready to operate at full capacity by the middle of May," said ERCOT spokeswoman Leslie Sopko.
A new bill was passed by the Senate to fix some issues with ERCOT. It would require board members to live in Texas, add criteria for board members to be unaffiliated with electric generators, and would require that ERCOT’s board chairman be appointed by the governor.