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A&M expert: ERCOT plan to restore faith in state’s grid will need to address a list of issues

A Texas A&M power grid expert says the February winter storm revealed a number of problems and the council won’t be able to fix them with just one solution.
Published: Jul. 20, 2021 at 7:25 PM CDT
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - “It’s a good plan to go with.”

That’s what Texas A&M electrical engineering professor and Director of the Texas A&M Smart Grid Thomas Overbye said of the new ERCOT plan to improve.

He says we should be “OK” for the rest of the summer. Overbye explains that abnormally high temperatures could cause another round of calls to conserve energy but he thinks that’s unlikely. He said Texas A&M is actively researching new methods for optimal grid usage.

“One area we’re working on is better cybersecurity,” Overbye explained, “another area we’re working on is better situational awareness for the grid.”

He said A&M researchers and students are working closely with ERCOT to develop a more reliable and sustainable grid. But he says it can be difficult for ERCOT to immediately get answers to grid issues. That’s because the council doesn’t own the power generators nor the transmission lines that power is distributed through. He says that can mean delays for diagnosing issues.

Overbye said he hopes a forthcoming report by the North American Electric Reliability Organization on ERCOT’s handling of the February winter storm will shine more light on the issues plaguing the grid.

“A takeaway on the February event is there really was no single cause for the event, other than the fact, of course, it was really cold here,” Overbye said, “so there is not one particular solution.”

He says ERCOT will need to work more closely with generator and power line owners to actually enact change through this plan. But he says ERCOT is on the right track and they’ll be even better equipped to facilitate those solutions once the national reports from other federal regulatory agencies is released.

“Once we know those recommendations, hopefully, as a state, we can move forward in getting them implemented.”

Watch the interview in the player above.

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