Q&A re: ERCOT Load Shed Event

April 9, 2021, 10:10 a.m.
Last modified July 12, 2021, 9:15 a.m.

What was the February 2021 cold weather event that resulted in load shed in ERCOT and SPP?

The polar vortex event was an extreme weather event that resulted in massive load shed in both ERCOT and the Southwest Powerpool. This event occurred due to a confluence of factors, including a failure to adequately winterize generating resources, a lack of natural gas supply due to wells, lines and pumps freezing or being without power and very high loads.

Can this happen in our region?

Today, without an RA program, the NWPP region is less protected from the impacts of weather events, which we could also experience, and from other threats to reliably serving load. Although the load shed events in ERCOT were due primarily to failure of the system to respond in the face of an extreme weather event, advance planning to ensure resource adequacy (including for peak events) can play a role in helping to minimize impacts of weather events, extreme or otherwise. For these reasons it is important to remain focused on our goal to develop an RA program for the NWPP footprint to ensure we limit capacity deficits that could lead to load shed events/rolling blackouts.

How will the NWPP RA Program consider these events going forward?

The NWPP RA program will continue to monitor the lessons learned from the Texas event (as well as extreme weather events occurring in other regions). We are actively learning and will incorporate lessons from areas across the West as we work to design a robust program. We will continue to track and maintain a dialogue with stakeholders within our program design process and consider whether future changes are warranted.