Texas may remain at risk for another power failure this winter season.
In February 2021, the state of Texas suffered a major power crisis, which came about as a result of three severe winter storms sweeping across the United States on February 10–11, 13–17, and 15–20.
The storms caused a massive electricity generation failure in the state of Texas, leading to shortages of water, food, and heat.
“I will tell you I’m still worried,” said Curt Morgan, CEO of Vistra Corp. “If we have another event like Uri this winter, we are not out of the woods. There’s no doubt about it.”
Vistra is the largest electric producer in Texas.
Vistra’s power plant in Midlothian, a combined cycle gas turbine facility, can produce about 1,600 megawatts of electricity at full capacity, which is enough to power 800,000 homes. Natural gas fuels this facility.
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For months, Vistra has upgraded its weatherization here and at the other 19 facilities it operates in Texas.
Though state and federal regulators have not yet announced minimum standards for weatherization, Vistra said its facilities would be able to withstand temperatures of -5 degrees.
Across the system, Vistra is reinsulating pipes, adding heaters to them and even trucked in 2,000,000 gallons of diesel that can power back-up generators for up to a week in case they have to be turned on.
Electric plants are preparing for winter but natural gas producers in Texas are not required to do the same.
However, about half of all electric generation facilities in Texas run on natural gas.
“Natural gas is fundamental to electricity. Electricity is fundamental to everyday life,” Morgan said.
“I’m hoping that the Railroad Commission will take this even more serious and actually push their constituents to weatherize sooner and register for this winter. Even though the process in Senate Bill 3 gives them through 2022 to do most of the work, I hope they accelerate that, and they take it serious what the legislature has told them recently that it’s unacceptable not to be prepared for this winter.”
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