LUBBOCK, Texas — Texas’s energy grids have faced unprecedented challenges over the last few days.
“I mean, this was just worse than their ‘What could go wrong scenarios,’” said Associate Professor of
Practice in Energy Commerce and Business Economics, Dr. Michael Giberson.
The Southwest Power Pool is no longer at any emergency alert level, but while the ERCOT grid has given power back to residential members, it is still at a level 3 emergency alert.
State leaders are blaming wind energy for the rolling outages across Texas, but local experts say that is not the whole story.
“Had natural gas generation stayed online, we could have gotten through without blackouts even if we had lost all the wind. Even if there was zero wind power, we could have made it through,” said Dr. Giberson.
While some of the wind turbines did freeze, Dr. Giberson said had they been prepared for such intense cold, they might have stayed on.
“In Texas, you don’t spend the extra money to build. You don’t protect a Texas wind turbine against a Minnesota cold because we’re not Minnesota, except maybe this week we were kind of close,” said Dr. Giberson.
Between Texas’ two grids, one did end up faring better.
“However you sort of look at it SPP, the power systems in the SPP, have fared much better than ERCOT,” said Dr. Giberson.
Dr. Giberson said because the SPP grid extends so far north, it is likely many of the power stations in the grid were already prepared for the cold.
With Lubbock on the brink of switching from SPP to ERCOT, Dr. Giberson said ERCOT’s response did raise a lot of questions.
“It’s definitely a reason to take one more look, but I’m still enthusiastic about joining ERCOT,” said Dr. Giberson.
In the end, he is still confident the switch will be good for Lubbock in the long run.
“There will be some changes made because of this, and it’s going to be an even better system because of those changes,” said Dr. Giberson. “Forward-looking, when June comes along and we join, this is in the past, and there is a great deal of promise in the future of ERCOT.”
Some members of the Lubbock community have expressed concern over Lubbock’s upcoming switch to ERCOT, but there are no new announcements from LP&L regarding the upcoming switch.