SAN ANTONIO – As Texas faced its first big freeze this winter, some wondered if the power grid was ready to handle it.
Pablo Vegas, president and CEO of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which operates the electricity grid in Texas, said preparation and planning were among the reasons the grid held firm.
“I give a lot of credit, you know, like I said, not only to all of the Texans who responded and the businesses that responded, but also the generation fleet performed really well during this weather event,” Vegas said. “Whether it was the traditional thermal dispatchable units, like the coal plants and the gas plants from the nuclear plants — as well as the renewable facilities, the wind and the solar facilities — performed very well. And then the newest technology that’s on the ERCOT grid, the batteries, they all perform very well, too.”
ERCOT asked Texans twice this week to conserve electricity as the electric grid conditions tightened due to freezing temperatures. Vegas said this made a big impact.
“We saw a significant change in how much energy was being consumed during that window. So that had to have been a combination of the government agencies, residential homeowners that adjusted their thermostats or used the washer, dryer a little bit later in the day. And then, of course, the school delays and cancellations that happened over the last couple of days,” Vegas said.
Vegas said ERCOT has made several changes since the winter storm in 2021.
“We’ve also seen a lot of growth of resources on the electric grid. So we’ve seen a lot of increases in renewable solar, as well as wind, come on. We have more wind today and more solar than we ever have before,” Vegas said. “We are seeing a lot of battery growth. We talked about that. Batteries are a big help, and they can provide energy really at any time.”
Vegas wants Texans to know that ERCOT is focused on improving the grid.
“ERCOT and the electric-generating community and the transmission-operating community, we are all focused every single day to continuously improve the grid and to make sure that we can meet the demands, regardless of how cold or how hot it is, and that a lot of progress is being made,” Vegas said.