HOUSTON – A final report by federal energy regulators said the blackouts in Texas during February’s winter storm were caused by freezes at power generators and natural gas facilities.
The report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the North American Electric Reliability Council issued Tuesday looked at the storm that brought sub-freezing temperatures to Texas for six days.
According to the report, between 7 a.m. Feb. 15 and 1 p.m. Feb. 17, power plants overseen by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, shed an average of 34,000 megawatts of power, leaving 4.5 million Texans without power.
More than 200 people died because of the storm.
According to the report, the primary cause of the outages was frozen equipment and failures at power plants across the state. The secondary cause was frozen equipment and failures at natural gas wellheads and processing facilities, which led to a breakdown of the gas supply chain. Most of that equipment failed despite being rated to handle the temperatures, according to the report.
"Eighty-one percent of the freeze-related generating unit outages occurred at temperatures above the unit’s stated ambient design temperature," regulators wrote in the report. "Generating units that experienced freeze-related outages above the unit’s stated ambient design temperature represented about 63,000 MW of nameplate capacity."
That led to a 50% reduction in power generation from levels the month before in Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana.
Federal regulators also said more than 20 power plants in Texas had no winterization plans despite standards recommending they do so.
Regulators recommended that both power generators and natural gas facilities be required to do more to protect their infrastructure from extreme cold.