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Texas Grid May Be Showing Signs Of Faltering

The Texas grid may fail again this year, according to a local investigative journalist who this week raised the alarm about the grid's state of preparedness ahead of an Arctic weather front.

"This is not a good start. Tried checking @ERCOT_ISO dashboard about grid conditions and it's down. Tried checking hourly resource outage data, that's down too," Jeremy Rogalski from K-HOU TV tweeted on Wednesday.

He later added that he had gotten in touch with a spokesperson for the Energy Reliability Council of Texas who'd told him that the grid operator was having issues from an upgrade made back in November.

Alarm is the appropriate reaction to such news after last year, the grid failed so spectacularly that it caused massive blackouts, with some people remaining without power for several days.

The Texas Freeze of last year, as it came to be known, also knocked out power plants and oil and gas wells, causing the largest-ever oil production decline in U.S. oil history.

Following the crisis, ERCOT demonstrated that it was willing to make the effort to shore up its systems in anticipation of other cold waves. Earlier this month, the grid operator said it was ready for the next freeze. ERCOT said it had inspected all power generation and transmission facilities in the state, and all but three power plants passed the test, which makes 321 out of 324.

"The Texas electric grid is more prepared for winter operations than ever before," said the interim chief executive of ERCOT, Brad Jones, as quoted by the Houston Chronicle, last month following the inspections.

This week, as forecasts of a cold snap began coming in, ERCOT told media 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 also said.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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