As the media stated, it could have been worse because the entire grid could have collapsed within seconds had not grid managers been able to institute rolling blackouts. Twenty-six million customers, including healthcare facilities, could have been totally blacked out for literally weeks and maybe months.

Contributing Factors:

  1. Wind turbines in the Panhandle locked up.
  2. Natural gas plants shut down due to frozen pipes and other components shutting off fuel flow.
  3. A nuclear power plant offline due to a section of uninsulated pipe seizing up.

There is no doubt the CMS will become excited. In their Final Rule at 42 CFR 482.15, you will find an extensive explanation of how an All-Hazards approach should be the backbone of all protocols, including those for ITM (Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance) of the EPSS (Emergency Power Supply System). In one section, you will find text regarding the periodic “practicing” of plans/protocols. I expect more emphasis on proving compliance to the regulations on drills and table-top exercises.

The blame for the disaster will be around for years, but the facts remain:

  1. Power plants underestimated reserve capacity, and
  2. Systems were not “winter-proofed” for this severe scenario.

Dependency on the grid in several locations is hazardous. Regarding the three “Rs” (Reliability, Resiliency, and Redundancy), ERCOT didn’t fare well. We must be diligent in planning for long-term outages and expect worse case scenarios.