Texas power grid at risk again this winter: watchdog
Texas utility sues power grid ERCOT over 'excessive' cold snap charges

At least 246 Texans died when the power grid the state depended on failed after being battered by three February 2021 winter storms. Some data analysts put the death toll closer to 800.

That Texas grid and the Texans who count on it for heat and light, are in for another rough, wild winter according to a trusted energy watchdog that warned of those 2021 dangers. The not-for-profit North American Electric Reliability Corp assesses how prepared American and Canadian energy providers are for winter deep freezes and summer heat waves. NERC released its winter 2022-23 winter readiness report for America's grids. It found that the grid Texas relies on, ERCOT, was at risk.

Grids for the Great Lakes states of Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin also face heightened risk, NERC warns.

Interestingly, the rest of the Midwest is rated in good shape, thanks to wind power added since last winter.

When three snow and ice storms battered Texas one after another, the most catastrophic power failure in Texan history resulted. Texans died, some freezing to death. Others died of carbon monoxide poisoning while trying to get warm. There are still many unanswered questions about who made some disastrous decisions leading to and during the power outages. For example, many downtown Dallas luxury hotels continued to get electricity, keeping guests warm on Valentine's Day, while hundreds of homes remained dangerously cold, dark, and without power. Gov. Greg Abbott never explained why he initially and wrongly blamed wind turbines for the power failure, a falsehood repeated by The New York Times and CNN, and many right-wing news outlets before it was corrected.

NERC's 2022-23 grid report card was discussed in detail at a national association of utility commissioners last weekend.

“It’s a sobering assessment," said Fritz Hirst, NERC director of legislative and regulatory affairs. "A large portion of North America is at risk of insufficient supplies during the extreme winter scenarios.”

Hirst gave said that the Electricity Reliability Council of Texas, the Midcontinent Independent System Operator which provides energy in the Midwest and ISO New England all face elevated winter reliability risks,

The online journal, Utility Dive, covered the conference where dangers posed by New England's storage tanks at oil-fired power plants that are currently "only about 40% full, down from 54% last winter."

ERCOT's lawyers sent a January 2022 letter to the Texas Public Utility Commission that its equipment is ready for winter, at least the mild winter NOAA predicts.

Hirst said red states of the Southwest should have an easy winter due to clean, renewable power sources including increased wind energy, Utility Dive reported. And the Pacific Northwest should have ample winter power due to massive hydroelectric generation.

NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is forecasting milder winter temperatures for Texas and the Great Plains with little snow or ice.