In Texas: Grid Increasingly Vulnerable to Climate Change

October 9, 2022


“I often hear previous generations say, ‘It was never this hot when I was growing up.’ And then to look at the data and say, ‘You’re right, it wasn’t this hot when you were growing up,’” Jen Brady, lead analyst for Climate Central, said.

Climate Central is a nonprofit where scientists study weather trends.

“We say ‘climate change’ and not ‘global warming,’ necessarily, because we’re looking at wacky weather in all ways,” Brady said.

She found one trend pointing to Texas and the nation warning of possible power failures.

“I think the first thing is just the acknowledgment that we’re going to require a more robust grid that was built previously,” Brady said.

“This is a very alarming trend,” Doug Lewin, president of Stoic Energy Consulting, said.

Stoic Energy advises energy leaders about how to build a clean, sustainable power grid. 

“Our systems have not caught up to the climate reality that we’re experiencing,” Lewin said.

Power companies must report to the Department of Energy (DOE) each time 50,000 or more customers lose power. The DOE data doesn’t show what really happened.

Hundreds died during a February 2021 winter storm. Millions lost power for days as temperatures remained in single digits.

Regulators and researchers reported power plants, natural gas lines and renewable energy sources failed at some point due to ice and freezing temperatures.

Companies’ federal filings neither mention ice nor freeze.

“I would say, generally, the more specific they can be, the better because it helps folks like you understand, it helps researchers and, you know, and academia and helps regulators,” Lewin said.

Climate Central analyzed reports from 2000 to 2021. Through their research, Brady and her team found what really happened during the weather-related power outages.

“Climate Central’s report shows us is that there are so many other times that large numbers of people are losing power. And it’s interesting the way some politicians, and some media, and some of the general public are talking about these things and saying, ‘Oh, when those failures happened, that’s not a failure of the grid.’ And sometimes it makes my head hurt,” Lewin said. “I’m like, ‘Of course it’s a failure of the grid if anybody is without power for any period of time. What they mean to say is, it’s not a failure of the bulk power grid. It is not a failure of ‘we didn’t have enough generation to meet demand.’ That’s what they mean. But a failure on the distribution grid is still a failure and it is still extremely dangerous.”

If you have still not seen my interviews with Texas experts and Texas local media on the Valentine’s blackout of 2021, do take a few minutes, below.


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