The Texas Electricity Reliability Board, “Ercot,” said that the US state of Texas was dangerously close to a long-term power outage during the severe winter storm last week.
According to documents released during the emergency board meeting on Wednesday, the Texas network has come under much more pressure than previously thought.
And in the most dangerous part of the night of February 14 when the storm reached the state, network operators were four minutes and 37 seconds away from a widespread “outage” that would have triggered an automatic shutdown of certain electrical circuits.
Had that happened, millions of Texas customers would have experienced long-term disruptions because technicians would have had to “black start” their generation facilities. This could take weeks, leaving Texas in complete darkness.
The black start is the process of restoring the electrical power station or part of the electrical network to operation without relying on the external power transmission network to recover from a total or partial shutdown. Usually, the electrical energy used inside the station is provided from the station’s generators.
The documents showed that half of the state’s power generation capacity was disrupted due to the severe cold during the peak, with a large proportion of electricity generation being stopped for more than 48 hours before power was restored. The council said that most of the stations that stopped generating are powered by natural gas.
As of Wednesday, six members of the Ercot board of directors tasked with running most of the Texas power grid, which is largely cut off from the rest of the nation’s power grid, have resigned.
Last week, a severe winter storm caused a major blackout in the southern state. So far, dozens of deaths have been reported from the severe weather.