Freezing temperatures and snow and sleet are expected to hit north Texas this week and put to the test the electric grid following last year’s deadly deep freeze that left millions of Texans without electricity for days and led to the largest ever decline in oil production as wells froze.
This week’s Arctic blast “will not be a repeat in severity and impacts of the Feb 2021 winter storm, however hard freezes are possible Thu-Sat mornings and a potential wintry mix of precipitation is possible Thu morning,” the Austin/San Antonio chapter of the National Weather Service (NWS) warned over the weekend.
In Midland, the heart of the Permian, temperatures are expected to drop to 15 degrees Fahrenheit on Wednesday and plunge further on Thursday night, according to forecasts cited by Bloomberg.
Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) said in a statement to NBC 5 that it was “taking early preventative action ahead of the expected increase in demand to ensure the grid remains reliable.”
“We have ordered power plants across the region to postpone planned outages and to return from outages already in progress,” ERCOT said.
Ahead of this week’s expected winter storm, some analysts are concerned that natural gas production in parts of the Permian could be affected by the freeze and leave power plants with lower gas availability.
This storm will be milder than last year’s deep freeze, yet some concerns remain about how the system would cope with very high demand for heating.
“Since we have little proof that the gas system was winterized, if there is a vulnerability to Texas power plants and ERCOT operations it’s going to be because the gas system let us down,” energy consultant Alison Silverstein told NBC 5.
In the middle of last month, ERCOT said that Texas was ready for the winter.
“ERCOT filed its final winter weatherization readiness report with the Public Utility Commission of Texas showing 321 of 324 electric generation units and transmission facilities fully passed inspection for new winterization regulations,” the company said on January 19.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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