The student news site of Westwood High School.

Westwood Horizon

The student news site of Westwood High School.

Westwood Horizon

The student news site of Westwood High School.

Westwood Horizon

The Texas Power Grid Needs To be More Reliable During Winter

Alessandra Ashford
A majority of Texans rely on Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) for their electricity, especially during the winter. But after the recent winter storm, and previous winter disasters, Texas’ power grid should be re-evaluated.

Almost 90% of the Texas population depends on Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) for their electricity, especially during the colder season. Recently, Texas temperatures plummeted below freezing, leading to cancelled classes, icy roads, and more importantly, power outages as freezing temperatures continue moving south. This recent arctic blast had many Texas residents wondering how the Texas power grid is holding up with the cold and if it’s even reliable. 

On the morning of Jan. 15, the first power conservation request was issued from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m., and ended quickly without any major problems with the grid. ERCOT reports the frigid weather brought “record-breaking demand” for electricity at the same time that the state experienced “unseasonably low wind,” which limited the amount of electricity being fed into the grid by windmills. ERCOT issued a second request as the winter storm was moved across the state and the temperature continued to plummet.

As the cold air swept over Texas on Tuesday Jan. 16, ERCOT urged residents to yet again conserve their power to survive the frigid temperatures. Despite the cold, it seems that the power grid has improved on keeping Texas homes’ lit, despite failing the state in 2021 and 2022.

The brutal winter storm in February 2021 didn’t only cause the power grid to fail, but failure to keep the state warm resulted in more than 240 deaths from hypothermia and vehicle crashes on the icy roads. That year, the Texas power grid was unreliable and failed to perform its duty to power the state’s electricity.

The freeze in 2021 cost billions of dollars worth of damages, caused blackouts around the state, and raised concerns of the survival of wildlife. This created an overwhelming financial and emotional load for Texas residents. ERCOT is responsible for providing power to the jurisdictions such as but not limited to, Austin Energy, Pedernales Electric and Bluebonnet Electric. However, since Texas’ grid is independent, the state couldn’t access electricity in places around them that still had it. In addition, the 2023 ice storm caused half a million of Texas residents to lose power due to  power lines coated in ice, and ice-coated tree branches snapping off and falling on power lines. ERCOT is unreliable as it did not hold up as it should in the 2023 freeze. 

Despite the failure of the Texas power grid’s efforts in keeping the state warm during the February winter storm in 2021 and 2022, this year shows significantly improved results. Only some homes lost electricity, much less fatalities have occurred, and most schools were able to resume in-person classes. These results came from the weather being much tamer than the storm in 2021, with significant less precipitation, and in addition, that ERCOT has learned from frigid winters and has improved in keeping the majority of Texas warm and powered. In the future, Texas should expand the grid’s  interconnection, allowing Texas to be able to import more power from outside the state, which can help during freezes and keep tragedies from happening again.

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About the Contributors
Sophia Cortes, Dreamcatcher Staff
Class of 2026 Hi I’m Sophia and I am a member of Student Press! When I’m not in the press room and have time for hobbies you may catch me crocheting, drawing, or creating art in general.
Alessandra Ashford, Opinions Editor
Class of 2025 When I’m not writing or editing you can find me reading, drawing, painting, listening to music, and ranting. I always love to tell stories and start conversations. I’m so excited to be on Student Press!

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    Edgar LopezJan 31, 2024 at 8:13 am

    Someone should appoint this young lady to the Energy Council !!! Nicely Done

    Frost Electrical Company LLC