Texas Power Grid Failure Puts State In Spotlight

Just two years after a major failure in its power grid, Texas is once again experiencing major failures that are affecting thousands of people across the state.

Power companies are struggling to keep up and keep the power on for households in the state, as the “oppressive and persistent” heat wave that the state is experiencing rages on. Now, a lot of attention is being paid to the storage capacity of batteries that the state of Texas has.

Excessive heat warnings have been issued by the National Weather Service for a majority of Texas as well as some parts of Arizona and New Mexico, with temperatures climbing higher than 100 degrees in some places.

On Sunday, the weather service that some regions in Texas have already experienced a record number of hours of “dangerously high heat,” and that the largest danger is still yet to come.

Many local experts are saying that the energy grid in the state will face a “real test” over the next few weeks. 

The University of Texas’ Energy Institute’s research scientist, Joshua Rhodes, spoke with the Washington Post recently and said:

“Just about every single air conditioner in those regions is going to want energy at the same time.”

That’s likely to cause a massive issue for a power grid that’s already shown to be weak in the past.

Electricity grids throughout the country are already facing significant stress because of the increased demand for electricity at a time when extreme weather events are on the rise.

In the summer of 2022 in California, for instance, residents were asked to conserve energy to help prevent a major strain on the state’s power grid. Oil refineries located along the Gulf of Mexico were also forced to close temporarily due to an unexpected cold streak.

Data from the Energy Information Administration shows that in 2020, households in the U.S. experienced an average of seven hours of time without power. Much of that time was caused by an extreme weather event, too. That’s a major increase from the four hours of power outages households experienced on average in 2016.

At one point last week, 300,000 homes throughout Texas were without power, forcing operators of the grid to ask households to significantly reduce the usage of their appliances and air conditioning as much as possible.

A spokesperson for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas spoke to Newsweek recently and said:

“Depending on weather conditions and generation output, we could see tight grid conditions periodically this summer. … [We] will continue to monitor conditions and keep Texans informed.”

The organization has taken some steps to try to make Texas’ power grid more reliable. This includes inspections of the grid based around predicted weather patterns, as well as scheduled periods for maintenance in advance of winter.

Texas has been turning to renewable sources of energy in recent years to try to boost its power grid.

In terms of total battery capacity, Texas ranks second in the nation behind only California, according to a S&P Global Intelligence report conducted back in May. That battery capacity is going to be put to the test in the coming weeks.