Never again one year later: Texas grid is graded by expert


After 2021’s winter storm, a group of experts puts together a list of recommendations they thought would prevent another major power grid failure.

Alison Silverstein, a consultant, strategist, and writer on electric transmission and reliability, energy efficiency says while regulators took some essential steps, Texas still remains at risk because many of their recommendations to fix the problems haven’t been met.

Silverstein, a former public utility commissioner and five other former PUCT commissioners and chairs, was deeply troubled by the state's failed power grid that kept many without lights, water and gas for days.

“We felt that our experience and insights gave us an opportunity to offer intelligent recommendations on how to fix it,” said Silverstein.

Those recommendations were listed in a report titled “Never again: how to prevent another major Texas electricity failure." A year later Silverstein says state agencies that hold the power to make the changes have not taken those steps. Now, she’s evaluating those agencies with a report card. Some areas received failing grades.

“This is my view alone other commissioners can tell you if they agree or not. But this is my view of what hasn't been done and as you can tell by looking at the report card, there's lots more that we recommended that has not been acted on, unfortunately,” she said.

Silverstein’s report card identified the five most important areas listed below:

  1. There has been no attention or substantive work to expand energy efficiency, the single most effective and low-cost way to protect Texas electric customers and its grid against the costs and risks of power system expansion and failure.
  2. There has been minimal effort made to study or improve ERCOT’s black-start unit rules and requirements, despite half of the black-start generation units failing during Uri. ERCOT would use black-start units to restart the grid after a total collapse and pay these units to be ready for this purpose.
  3. The PUCT has not required electric transmission and distribution utilities to examine the design and execution of their power systems and outage management plans. This review would identify potential modifications that could minimize future major outages, making them shorter, smaller, and more equitably allocated among neighborhoods and customers. Now that even more facilities have registered as “critical,” it will be harder to manage large load-sheds equitably.
  4. ERCOT has not demonstrated a meaningful improvement in its load forecasting and seasonal and long-term resource assessments and does not acknowledge the risks and implications of extreme weather events for the reliability of Texas’ power system.
  5. And to underline the point yet again, the lack of adequate natural gas system winterization means ERCOT’s electric system reliability remains vulnerable to natural gas freeze-ups and contract and price manipulation.

Other findings showed:

  • Electric demand in the cold: received two F’s and a D
  • Rolling blackouts: received three F’s
  • Demand and supply forecasting: received two F’s and a D

After 2021’s winter storm, a group of experts puts together a list of recommendations they thought would prevent another major power grid failure.

“I'm pretty sure that if we did fix all of the things that are on this list and move some of the stuff in the report card from an F or a D to a C or a B, that the Texas grid and Texans as a whole would be in much better shape,” said Silverstein.

CBS Austin reached out to the public utility commission and ERCOT to ask their thoughts on the grades and why the recommendations weren’t used.

A rep with the PUC sent a statement saying:

The Texas grid is the most resilient and reliable it's ever been after landmark reforms were passed by the legislature, signed by Governor Abbott, and implemented by the PUC and ERCOT in less than a year. That includes requiring power generators and transmission resources to winterize their equipment against extreme cold temperatures and redesign the electricity market to bring more power online sooner when high demand is forecast. The reforms also include a key program for generators to make sure they have enough backup fuel on hand to generate electricity if there are disruptions to their normal fuel supply. As we saw with the arctic storm earlier this month, the grid performed flawlessly.

Silverstein says another important area the state should consider is making sure critical facilities, like dialysis centers and hospitals, have backup power systems in event of outages. To view her full report you can click the link below.

Statement: Never Again One Year Later | A Reliability Report Card (

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