A report issued Tuesday by ERCOT, the Texas power grid operator, appears to give cover to gas companies and may invite more questions. “It’s a key component of competitive markets that there be transparency,” Ed Hirs, an energy fellow at the University of Houston, told E&E News, but “ERCOT provides anything but transparency.” More than half the system’s capacity, about 51 gigawatts of power, was offline at the peak of the blackouts the morning of February 16.
Internal emails obtained by Earther also show the Texas Railroad Commission, which oversees the state’s oil and gas industry — and pushed a climate denier’s talking points during the blackouts — lacked necessary supply information during the crisis due to its loose regulatory approach.
The ERCOT report pinned blame for 54% of the generation losses on weather-related issues at power plants and another 12% on the failure of the gas system. The report did not explain why different generation sources went offline, but did explicitly describe cold weather impacts on renewables and directly contradicted the testimony of ERCOT president, who said in February gas plant outages were 50% higher than the Tuesday report indicated. The report also did not explain the discrepancy between the estimates for outages caused by gas shortages. Nearly 200 people died in Texas as a result of the storm and blackouts, the Houston Chronicle reported last week. (ERCOT report: E&E $, Axios, Houston Chronicle, Washington Examiner, Utility Dive; RCC failures: Earther; Death toll, Houston Chronicle; Climate Signals background: February 2021 polar vortex breakdown)