Who is ERCOT? More on power outage

ERCOT continues to defend its decision to deliberately shut off power for millions of people, saying rotating outages was not sufficient.
Published: Feb. 16, 2021 at 10:23 PM CST
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LAREDO, Tex. (KGNS) - Not only will the outages continue, but more people are expected to lose power.

Around 7 p.m. on Tuesday, AEP posted to Facebook saying ERCOT directed them to reduce the load again, meaning more power outages.

KGNS has gotten more than 100 calls on Tuesday alone, many asking “when will my power be restored?” and “why hasn’t it been turned back on yet?”

That’s why we need to break this down for viewers, and hopefully they can share this with friends and family who aren’t able to watch.

ERCOT is the Electric Reliability Council of Texas. It oversees many local power companies across the state, including American Electric Power, while AEP oversees electricity lines in Laredo and many other areas.

In simple terms, ERCOT forced a percentage of consumers to be without power and instructed local power companies to hold off on restoring it.

ERCOT’s CEO Bill Magness blames the need for forced outages on the power supply not meeting the demand.

”As we continue to manage the bitter cold in this historic storm we’re seeing, we are trying to get people’s power back on as quickly as possible, but in order to do that, we need to be able to safely manage the balance of the supply and demand on the grid.”

Magness is referring to an electrical grid, which is a network of entities that deliver electricity from producers to consumers.

The 48 contiguous states have three electrical grids: the eastern interconnection for the east coast, the western interconnection for the west coast, and the Texas Interconnection for Texas.

ERCOT runs this grid, which covers most of Texas, 26 million customers representing about 90% of the state’s electric load.

ERCOT was formed in 1970 and is tasked with managing the grid reliability in accordance with national standards. However, ERCOT is not subject to federal rules because the grid does not cross state lines.

“ERCOT’s fundamental job is to maintain that supply and demand so we don’t have catastrophic collapses of the system and blackouts.”

Magness says the shortage of supply is the result of a variety of factors, including generators and wind turbines going out.

ERCOT does not own generators or transmitters of electricity. Instead, they coordinate with other entities to make sure all pieces work together and meet electricity standards.

Magness also says ERCOT saw the storm coming in their weather forecasts and made preparations, but this is the most overload to the system they have seen. This is only the fourth time in their history to deliberately shut down power to prevent the failure of the entire system.

”You can’t really store a lot of electricity. You have to use and make it at the same time. The physics of it dictate that you have the supply and demand at a certain frequency and you get too out of balance, you can have the system wires burn and catastrophic failures. That’s our job to deliver safely and reliably.”

“Ercot has been anything but reliable these past 48 hours,” said Governor Greg Abbott.

On Tuesday, the governor ordered the legislature to discuss reforming and investigating ERCOT to make sure texans don’t have to endure this again.

ERCOT’s CEO says they welcome this and are “happy to participate.”

Does ERCOT have its own plan to avoid this situation in the future?

ERCOT held a media briefing call Tuesday afternoon and didn’t give a clear answer.

They continue to emphasize that they have never dealt with something of this magnitude and that right now their concern is restoring power.

ERCOT continues to defend its decision to deliberately shut off power for millions of people, saying rotating outages was not sufficient.

Power will not be back on Tuesday, and they did not give a timeframe of when that will be.

To be clear, city officials have no authority over the situation.

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