ABA - American Bar Association

06/11/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 06/10/2021 23:13

Power Failure by Design: The Texas Energy Market

ERCOT's market construct fails to adequately address system performance.

Pixels | Dids

In mid-February of this year, Winter Storm Uri wreaked havoc across a large swath of the country, plunging temperatures and dumping snow and ice across everyone in its path. Most of the United States saw this as just another winter cold snap causing some additional inconvenience requiring some additional preemptive winterization efforts as part of typical winter-life adjustments.

For the residents of Texas, however, massive electricity interruptions occurred across the state as nearly half of the power-generating capacity on the system was unable to operate due to various reasons, including a lack of proper winterization impacting nearly every generating technology. The majority of wind generation facilities encountered blade icing and gearbox freezing, sidelining nearly all of the installed wind generation on the system for several days. Solar output declined due to overcast skies and snow accumulation.

As a result, nearly 70 percent of Texas residents-five million people-were without power during extreme cold temperatures for a week-some longer. Water systems failed. Infrastructure collapsed. Over 100 people died.