AUSTIN, Texas – The agency that regulates most of Texas' electric grid said Wednesday that the system is ready for winter after thousands were left without power for days during a blast of bitterly cold air last year.
Officials at the Electric Reliability Council of Texas said they conducted onsite inspections at the state's 324 power plants and transmission stations. Of those, 321 passed checks. The remaining three have been flagged for further review but are still operational.
"The Texas electric grid is more prepared for winter operations than ever before," said Brad Jones, ERCOT's interim CEO.
According to ERCOT, 322 of the power plants that passed inspection represent 85% of the power generation lost during the February 2021 winter storm that plunged the state into days of freezing weather.
The bitter cold caused power generation equipment and natural gas lines to freeze. This resulted in a dramatic loss of available electricity and prompted blackouts that left people without power for days.
More than 200 people died during the storm.
In the fallout, new regulations were put in place to ensure power facilities are better prepared to deal with extreme cold. Lawmakers also increased the fine for violating winterization rules to $1 million per day per violation.
"We are confident these 321 inspected facilities either meet or go beyond the new requirements from the Commission, and we will continue to work with the other three facilities to ensure they correct remaining deficiencies," said Woody Rickerson, ERCOT's vice president of System Planning and Weatherization. "Our teams spent thousands of hours preparing for and conducting these 324 on-site inspections to ensure the electric grid is prepared for winter."
According to ERCOT, the three facilities that are being reviewed represent just 0.4% of the agency's power generation resources. The Public Utility Commission of Texas will determine if the new fines will be assessed to the operators of those facilities.