MIL-OSI USA: NEWS: Casar’s Grid Proposal Could Have Prevented Most of Winter Storm Uri Grid Collapse, says MIT study

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Source: United States House of Representatives – Congressman Greg Casar (D-Texas)

By interconnecting the grid, Texas could have prevented nearly 80% of ERCOT’s blackouts during Winter Storm Uri

WASHINGTON – Today, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Climate Policy Center published a research brief demonstrating that Congressman Greg Casar’s (D-Texas) Connect the Grid Act could have prevented almost all of the blackouts ordered by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) during Winter Storm Uri.

E&E News: Blackouts could be slashed if Texas joins the U.S. grid — study

The research finds that if it was implemented before Winter Storm Uri in 2021, the Connect the Grid Act could have imported enough power to keep the lights on for millions of Texans — about 80% of the blackouts ordered by ERCOT would have been avoided if Casar’s bill were fully implemented. It also finds that if it was significantly interconnected, ERCOT could see an increase in net revenues and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

“This research proves what many Texans know: we didn’t need to lose electricity, money, and so many lives during Winter Storm Uri,” said Congressman Greg Casar (D-Texas). “The Connect the Grid Act would create more reliable electricity nationwide, while saving money and reducing carbon dioxide . I urge all of my colleagues to follow the science, and help us deliver power to the people.”

“Interregional transmission is one powerful tool for meeting the growing demand for electricity across the U.S. and improving resilience of the grid to extreme weather events,” said Juan Senga, PhD, a postdoctoral associate at the MIT Climate Policy Center. “In the case of Texas, interregional transmission can also lead to significant growth in wind generation capacity, the jobs that come along with that, and greater energy exports.”

Key Takeaways from the Research: 

  • The Connect the Grid Act would improve reliability.
    • If the Connect the Grid Act was implemented at the higher level of interconnection (36.7 GW of total transfer capacity), 79% fewer Texan households would have lost power during Winter Storm Uri.
  • The Connect the Grid Act would save money.
    • If implemented, $1.24 billion could be saved across the continental U.S. grid each year, and ERCOT would expect to see an increase in annual net revenues of about $123 million. 
  • The Connect the Grid Act would help fight the climate crisis.
    • The Connect the Grid Act would reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the ERCOT system between 11.5 and 13.2 million metric tons CO2-equivalent every year and up to 31 million metric tons across the U.S. system.

About 90% of the state of Texas’s electricity is run solely through the Texas grid. Because millions of Texans are not interconnected to the national grid, they are susceptible to mass power outages in the extreme cold or extreme heat — when we need reliable energy the most. The remaining 10%, like El Paso in the West and Beaumont in the East, are connected to other grids and did not suffer mass power outages during Winter Storm Uri in 2021.

The state has long refused to connect its grid in an attempt to avoid federal standards and consumer protections. 

View the full MIT research brief here.

Resources: 

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Congressman Greg Casar represents Texas’s 35th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives, which runs down I-35 from East Austin to Hays County to the West Side of San Antonio.  A labor organizer and son of Mexican immigrants, Casar serves as the Whip of the Congressional Progressive Caucus for the 118th Congress. He also serves on the Committee on Oversight and Accountability and the Committee on Agriculture.

 

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