In The News Quiz March 1, 2021

Weekly Quiz 7: Monday, March 1, 2021

Winter Storm 2021

In February of 2021 Texans—most not used to the cold—were hit with a frigid blast of air lasting several days, leading to a “perfect storm” of power outages across the state. At the peak of the blackout, some 45,000 megawatts of generation of capacity were offline, leaving more than 4 million Texans without electricity.

As energy demand increased due to cold weather, the state’s independent power grid, run by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) and overseen by the Public Utility Commission, could not generate enough power because several power generating stations like natural gas plants, wind turbines, and nuclear facilities could not safely operate in freezing conditions.

Politicians immediately pointed fingers at each other. Republicans claimed that overreliance on renewable energy sources contributed to the lack of energy, but most of the power generation lost was from frozen natural gas lines. Democrats argued that ERCOT should be a public utility instead of a private company regulated by the state, but others challenged that claiming the market normally works well and weather emergencies are infrequent.

Governor Abbott immediately called for reform of ERCOT, adding this to the list of emergency items which let the legislature get a jumpstart on law-making. The political fallout continues.

Read these links to understand why Texas has a unique power grid and what happened when the winter storm hit:

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