The winter storm that caused a large-scale power outage in Texas is gradually fading away, and electricity in Texas is gradually recovering. However, according to the website monitoring the power supply, as of the afternoon of the 19th, more than 170,000 users across Texas were still out of power.
Why did a winter storm cause a large power outage in this large energy state in the United States? In addition to rare extreme weather, the power sector is underprepared, government agencies shirk their responsibilities, and Texas’s independent power supply system are all important reasons.
The snowfall and low temperature exposed the weakness of Texas’s power infrastructure. Texas Electricity Board officials who operate the Texas power grid said that after the winter storm on the night of the 14th, many natural gas, wind and thermal power plants in Texas were unable to operate due to freezing, causing a sharp decline in power supply. At the same time, in order to meet the heating demand, the electricity consumption has surged.
The committee said on the 15th that it would implement short-term cycle power restrictions to meet the power supply needs, but it caused power outages for most parts of Texas for several days. The committee later admitted that 40% of Texas’s power supply was interrupted during the winter storm, and they underestimated the surge in electricity consumption.
Texas’ power supply facilities themselves cannot withstand the cold, officials said. However, energy experts believe that the failure of the government and power sector to prepare for the cold and upgrade power generation and transmission facilities is the “man-made disaster” that caused the power outage.
In 2011, a similar cold current hit Texas and caused a great power outage, and the same tragedy repeated 10 years later, and Texas obviously failed to learn a lesson. Experts believe that the Texas government, knowing that the cold may lead to a power system crisis, left private power companies to decide whether to modify the equipment, causing most companies not to carry out the renovation for cost reasons.
The ineffective response of the Texas government to disasters has been widely criticized by the public. Analysts say that in addition to failing to make adequate preparations in advance, the mutual accusations and prevarication between the government departments and the authorities have also made people dissatisfied.
Early on the power outage, Texas Governor Abbott accused private power companies of failing to do their best in restoring power supply, and criticized the Texas Electricity Reliability Commission for failing to ensure that the power generation equipment was operating properly in the cold. He pointed out that after the power outage in 2011, the authorities were still unable to estimate the extreme weather and adjust the equipment.
As the power outage continues, the Texas Electricity Reliability Commission is facing increasing doubts and pressure. The committee’s chief executive Bill Magnes said it was not their job to upgrade the antifreeze for power facilities.
Magnes said that the committee is only responsible for the management and operation of power transmission, and the actual owners of power generation and transmission equipment should be responsible for anti-freeze upgrades of the equipment. “We are willing to help with the equipment antifreeze upgrade, but that’s not really our job,” he said.
Magnes said on the 19th that there are still some areas that are outages due to damage to transmission lines.
Experts also believe that Texas’s independent power grid and unregulated energy market are also responsible for the power outage.
The 48 states in the United States, except Alaska and Hawaii, have three grids: Eastern Grid, Western Grid and Texas Grid. The Texas Power Grid is operated by the Texas Electricity Reliability Commission, which was established in 1970.
For historical reasons, the Texas Power Grid is almost independent of the national grid and is not subject to the jurisdiction of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Freedom and little regulation have always been the reason for Texas Power Grid to be proud.
In fact, the Texas power grid is not completely independent. It has three transmission lines connected to Mexico and two other transmission lines connected to the Eastern United States grid. However, when the winter storm arrived, other grid-covered areas were also affected by the storm. In addition, the transmission channels were limited, which prevented Texas from obtaining external power.