Energy experts still fear Texas vulnerable to power outages during winter storms

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) – As Houstonians went to bed Thursday night, it’s safe to say many were worried whether their lights would come on Friday.

“There’s a lot of political pressure … a lot of pressure for people to keep the lights on,” said Joshua Rhodes, PhD, an electrical specialist at UT Austin-based Webber Energy Group. . “At least that happened.”

Rhodes said that while we should be relieved that the lights are still on, we shouldn’t be at ease because Texas remains vulnerable to power outages.

SEE MORE: Snow covers parts of Texas as arctic blast sweeps state

“The fact that power is still on is great. That’s a pretty low level to get through,” said Rhodes, who is concerned that natural gas producers in the state have not been up to date. completely secreted. “One of the things I worry about is that we still don’t have the insight into the natural gas sector to make sure that the field is resilient to winter storm events.”

Rhodes said natural gas generates about half of the state’s energy. Other sources, including nuclear, wind, solar and coal, make up the rest. All of these energy producers send their products to power plants, which generate electricity and send it to consumers. Unlike power plants, which are required to resist the weather in laws passed by the legislature after the 2021 freeze, Rhodes said natural gas producers are not required to do so. so.

SEE MORE: ERCOT issues winter weather advice for Texas ahead of ‘very substantial’ cold weather

Since natural gas makes up the majority of the electricity that generates electricity in Texas, freezing these plants would immediately cause power shortages, which was what happened last year.

“If we don’t fix the natural gas supply grid, then the power plants might not be able to produce electricity, and people won’t get the electricity they want,” said Rhodes.

Former ERCOT Vice President Peter Cramton told ABC13 that the best way to make sure Texas doesn’t go dark as natural gas plants freeze, is to diversify. He wants to see more government investment in renewables, but he knows it’s going to be a tough road.

SEE MORE: Former ERCOT vice president explains what really happened during the February 2021 freeze

“It’s a very difficult thing to sell in Texas,” Cramton said. “But Texas has incredible renewable resources. We’ve seen this in the wind and we’re starting to see this in solar. And the question is, how did Texas become the capital?” the energy of the future rather than the old energy capital?”

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Dais Johnston

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