ERCOT: Thank goodness for Mexico's electricity!

As expected, the Public Utility Commission is looking into the close call the Texas power grid had on Feb. 26. That was when an unexpected drop in wind power and a number of failures with conventional power plants brought the state close to rolling black-outs. PUC spokesman Terry Hadley said a report will likely be ready for the commissioners to review by their March 27 meeting.

wind_turbines_in_texas
Don’t stop spinning, please! (Nellie Doneva/Abilene Reporter-News)

We wrote about the event here (ignore our headline, it makes no sense).
While the drop-off was not anticipated by operators of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the state’s main grid monitor, it turns out that information was close by. A wind forecast system that is being developed for ERCOT by AWS Truewind accurately predicted the crisis.
The system is being developed for the December launch of ERCOT’s nodal system (where the grid will be organized into smaller areas to better address congestion issues, among other things), but it has not yet been incorporated into ERCOT’s operations. A summary of the event sent to the PUC this week says ERCOT may look into getting the AWS Truewind system online sooner.
A few other interesting details/developments from documents filed by ERCOT:
• ERCOT had to call on 30 megawatts from a DC tie it has to the power grid in Mexico (not New Mexico, but Mexico) for a brief time to keep things in balance.
• Right after the crisis started, at 5:44 p.m., one power plant operator told ERCOT one of its units tripped off due to a mechanical failure, sapping another 150 megawatts from the network.
• ERCOT admitted it violated its own protocols by not notifying the media of the event while it was happening and issuing a call for conservation. In filings with the PUC, ERCOT says it skipped that step because the event happened so quickly and was over before they would have been able to get out the word.
If only everyone had to call the media when they made a mistake…

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