Figure 1: ISO Territories and Power Outages February 2021 (source: FERC and PowerOutage.US)
Black swan weather week disrupts power delivery across the US
In February 2021, 150M people were under winter advisories as ‘unprecedented’ snow and ice storms involving 25 states across the middle of the country. Seventeen states were affected by widespread rolling power outages, including Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Nebraska, Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio, New York, West Virginia, Tennessee, and Virginia. These outages affected the areas that participated in the ERCOT, SPP, MISO, PJM, NYISO, and NE-ISO service territories.
Throughout this black swan weather event, ERCOT instituted rolling blackouts across the Texas territory, affecting millions of Texas customers in order to prevent more extensive and damaging outages. In a recent ERCOT press release, “The ability to restore more power is contingent on more generation coming back online,” said ERCOT Senior Director of System Operations Dan Woodfin. Since the winter storm began on Monday (February 15, 2021), approximately 185 generating units (out of ~610 or 30% of all bulk generating capacity) have tripped offline for one reason or another. Some factors include frozen wind turbines, limited gas supplies, low gas pressure and frozen instrumentation.