ERCOT report on storm blames weather for most power outages but doesn’t explain why plants weren’t prepared

HOUSTON – A preliminary report released Tuesday by the agency overseeing most of the Texas power grid blames weather for most of the outages that happened during February’s winter storm, but it fails to explain why plants across the state were unprepared for the arctic cold.

The report issued by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas relied on responses to information requests sent to entities representing power generators or energy storage resources.

According to the report, the highest amount of unavailable power generation was between February 14 to 19. Approximately 8 a.m. Feb. 16 was the peak, with 51,173 megawatts of power lost. For context, 1 megawatt powers about 200 homes.

A little more than half (54%) of the power lost during that Feb. 16 peak was attributed to the weather, according to the report.

“This includes but is not limited to frozen equipment— including frozen sensing lines, frozen water lines, and frozen valves—ice accumulation on wind turbine blades, ice/snow cover on solar panels, exceedances of low temperature limits for wind turbines, and flooded equipment due to ice/snow melt,” according to the report.

That was followed by existing outages at 15%, fuel limitations at 12%, equipment issues at 14%, transmission loss at 2%, frequency-related at 2% and miscellaneous at 1%.

The report does not provide information about which generators or energy storage resources experienced which types of problems.

More than 100 deaths have been attributed to the winter storm that blanketed much of the state in snow and ice and kept most of Texas below freezing for days.

The full report can be found below.

About the Authors:

Aaron Barker has been a senior digital editor at KPRC 2 since 2016. As a meteorologist, he specializes in stories about the weather. He has covered Hurricane Harvey, the Astros first World Series win, the Santa Fe High School shooting, the ITC fire and Tropical Storm Imelda.