Update from State Rep. Lynn Stucky

Lynn Stucky

As I communicate with many of you and others around House District 64 these days, I am often met with questions or concerns about the stability of our power grid given the prolonged extreme temperatures. This is completely understandable given the events that took place in February of 2021 during Winter Storm Uri. While that was an unprecedented cold weather event, extreme heat can pose the same issues to the grid. When we refer to the grid, we mean the electric grid managed by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, as it is commonly referred to.

ERCOT manages the flow of electric power to more than 26 million Texas customers, representing about 90% of the state’s electric load. As the independent system operator for the region, ERCOT schedules power on an electric grid that connects more than 52,700 miles of transmission lines and over 1,030 generation units. It also performs financial settlement for the competitive wholesale bulk-power market and administers retail switching for eight million premises in competitive choice areas. ERCOT is a membership-based 501(c)(4) nonprofit corporation, governed by a board of directors and subject to oversight by the Public Utility Commission of Texas and the Texas Legislature. Its members include consumers, cooperatives, generators, power marketers, retail electric providers, investor-owned electric utilities, transmission and distribution providers, and municipally-owned electric utilities.

You have probably noticed you seem to hear from them much more often, mostly to conserve during very hot stretches of days. This is because, last session, the legislature passed numerous bills to make sure they do their job more efficiently and never put us in the situation we faced last year with rolling and sustained blackouts. Better management, increased communication, weatherization are just a few of the changes made to better the grid.

On ERCOT’s website, www.ercot.com, they provide a dashboard with numerous charts and data about current, past, and projected future conditions. It is also a great place to learn more about the electric industry in general.

Almost all power outages experienced are not necessarily going to have anything to do with ERCOT, though. Most power outages are small, isolated instances that will be handled by your local provider in a timely manner. An example is a tree falling on a powerline during a storm or a malfunction in a piece of equipment along the service distribution path. It is always advisable to reach out to your provider first if you experience any gap or lack of service.

Despite changes made to ERCOT and the electric industry during the last legislative session following the winter storm, we still have much work to do to increase reliability. We are a growing state that badly needs more capacity. While I greatly appreciate all of you doing your part in complying with conservation requests during stretches of extreme weather, come January, we will continue to work to rebuild your trust in our grid system through any means necessary. Stay cool out there!