UPDATE 1-Texas electrical grid still at risk in extreme weather -Dallas Fed | will it snow in florida

(Adds statements from grid operator and regulator)

By Laila Kearney

NEW YORK, Jan 17 (Reuters) – The Texas electrical grid is still vulnerable to severe weather despite safeguards instituted after a deadly February 2021 deep freeze that brought widespread power outages, the Dallas Federal Reserve said on Tuesday.

Since the freeze roughly two years ago, which caused key components of the state’s electrical system to fail, Texas has introduced new regulations, standards to weatherize its grid and made operational changes.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas called for increased enforcement of those standards, more incentives to boost thermal power generation and Texas’ so-called enhanced demand-response programs, which can include paying large power customers to curtail electricity use during peak demand.

The moves “would help ensure the power grid stands up to future demand growth and the challenges of extreme weather,” Garrett Golding, a senior business economist at the Dallas Fed, said in a note.

The state’s grid, which is primarily operated by Electric Reliability Council of Texas and overseen by the Public Utility Commision of Texas, avoided rolling blackouts during severe cold weather last month.

Representatives for ERCOT and the Texas PUC said the performance during the winter storm, along with other severe temperatures that led to surging demand since early 2021, is proof that the grid reforms have been successful.

“What Texas needs now is more dispatchable generation to meet growing demand on the grid by building reliability into the Texas electricity market,” said Texas PUC spokesperson Ellie Breed, adding that the commission will vote this week on adding power generation and on other grid-related issues.

Still, last month’s storm sent some warning signals about work still needed to be done some, Golding’s note said. Power plants and natural gas facilities failed during the recent winter storm, putting the electrical system at risk as demand surged to 73,000 megawatts, close to its winter record high set the 2021 freeze, Golding said.

Natural gas production also dropped by about 25% during the December winter storm as wells froze in even though temperatures were roughly 10 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than February 2021 weather, the note said.

“The cold snap last month demonstrated that progress has been made, but it also exposed the remaining vulnerabilities as electricity demand increases and extreme weather becomes more common,” Golding wrote. (Reporting by Laila Kearney Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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