Texas nuclear plant was just 3 minutes away from going completely off-line during blackout
Photo: Screen capture

The hearing in the Texas legislature about the power crisis revealed a number of previously unknown issues that power plants faced during the blackout.

A Wall Street Journal reporter noted that the most shocking thing said in the hearing was that Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant, outside of Fort Worth, was three minutes from going completely offline from an emergency shut-off. Such a shut-off would take another 2,600 megawatts offline.

While Republicans spent their time blasting renewable energy sources as unreliable, Bloomberg News noted, the executives from Vistra Corp. revealed, "We came dangerously close to losing the system."

"Calpine, Vistra and NRG all said gas-supply shortages affected their ability to operate," the report also explained. "Not only did freezing weather shut in some gas production, the blackouts ordered by ERCOT compounded the issue as power was cut from pipeline compressors necessary to transport the fuel to power plants."

"If natural gas is compromised, the power system is going to be compromised," said NRG President Mauricio Gutierrez. He noted that NRG had such low pressure in natural gas pipelines feeding the system that it made it impossible to run the plants at capacity.

"Vistra's Morgan said that, despite having 90 percent of plants available to run, 'we just couldn't get the gas.'"

The plants, Vistra, Calpine, and NRG also said that they were forced offline by ERCOT, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, when the flow of energy dropped the morning of Feb. 15, which was when ERCOT announced the blackouts.

Read the full report from Bloomberg News on the hearings.