The CEO of ERCOT and other energy officials and executives said Texas and the U.S. power grid is becoming more vulnerable to extreme weather and warned of the risk of winter blackouts, according to a report by the Houston Chronicle.
The United States Energy Association, a nonprofit organization, hosted a virtual press briefing on the coming challenges to the nation’s power supply, warning of a “new era of energy crisis.” In the virtual briefing, Pablo Vegas, president and CEO of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, said the risk of blackouts is increasing.
Vegas pointed to the state’s lack of investment in expanding transmission lines, natural gas pipelines, and other infrastructure.
“The reality is risk is increasing. We’re all seeing it,” he said, as reported by the Chronicle. “If we do smart things with investments in resources, we can bring that risk down.”
When asked about last year’s Winter Storm Elliot, officials said they have made investments to make the grid more resilient, such as rewiring the grid to connect it in different ways and trimming transmission lines. Still, they expect that winter storms could cause outages.
“Even if customers do see power go out, it’s going to be shorter periods of time off,” said Rudy Garza, CEO of CPS Energy in San Antonio. “I don’t know we can do any more than (we’ve) done other than get steel in the ground, and that doesn’t happen overnight.”
When asked about green energy, Vegas said the energy produced by some sources such as electric vehicles, battery walls and rooftop photovoltaic can be harnessed to use in time of need.
“All of those can essentially be load or supply resources to a grid operator as long as there’s visibility, interconnection, telemetry and plannability around them,” he said. “That could be game changing for the industry and start to address elements of reliability economically. But we need a strong backbone of transmission.”