Snowpocalypse 2021, ERCOT, & How to Beat the Texas Energy Grid

Snowpocalypse 2021, ERCOT & How to Beat the Texas Energy Grid
Wells Solar

Wells Solar

Snowpocalypse 2021, ERCOT, & How to Beat the Texas Energy Grid

This past weekend has sent Texans scrambling for blankets, coats, candles, and batteries as snowpocalypse 2021 brought some of the lowest temperatures we’ve seen on record in quite some time. Prompting many to ask how the highest energy producing state in the country can’t keep up with the demand for energy during a week of below freezing temperatures.

Texas is the only state that has its own electric grid, the Texas Interconnect, that is operated by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). Every other state shares the other two grids – the Western Interconnect and the Eastern Interconnect. Dan Woodfin, senior director of system operations at ERCOT, was quoted saying that, “Beginning around 11:00 p.m. [Sunday night], multiple generating units began tripping off-line in rapid progression due to the severe cold weather,” This basically translates to frozen gas lines led to large-scale failure – approximately 30 Gigawatts (GW) of output loss.

Now this is not the first time that this has happened, but recommendations to winterize equipment post-Winter 1989 were not made mandatory by the Public Utility Commission of Texas. Additionally, Texas chose to avoid federal oversight by not joining the national grid which would allow the Western Interconnect and Eastern Interconnect to divert power from their states to Texas today. Equipment was not brought up to par over the next two decades and the same freeze dilemmas happened again during the Winter of 2011. On top of all of this, Texas homes are not built for these sorts of temperatures. Texas homes are built to keep heat out and not keep it in meaning it is much easier on the power grid to cool homes 20 degrees during summer than heating them from 0 to 70. Thirty years later, the main culprit of the infrastructure failure we are seeing is the limited supplies of gas and frozen instruments at gas, coal and nuclear plants which power the majority of Texas’ grid. Not only were they not ready to take on the freeze, but some power plants unplugged their operations at the request of ERCOT and avoided skyrocketing natural gas market spot rates and avoid losses during Sunday’s freeze. ERCOT has since issued an emergency order allowing the fossil fuel plants to charge consumers those high spot market prices to “reflect the scarcity of the supply.” These companies are committed to profits over servicing at affordable rates.

Fast forward to Tuesday and “rolling” blackouts – some of which have lasted more than 30 hours for some – have left millions shivering without power. This cold is rare, but in any blackout condition, having energy is a necessity for survival.

Sustainable energy systems such as solar or wind harness their own power and contrary to misguided popular belief they operate tremendously well in snow. In fact, they operate better with snow.

Millions of Americans use these green energy sources in parts of the country that are colder than Texas without failure. On a residential scale, solar always outshines the competition.


Regardless of Snowpocalypse 2021, each summer we experience extremely high temperatures in Texas and energy costs soar as the demand rises for all Texans as we crank up the air conditioning. Wouldn’t you like to lock in the same rate every month? Power even when it’s hot? Or maybe really cold? Maybe even make some money back from the excess energy you don’t use? Or what about just being prepared when the grid goes black?

Energy prices are expected to rise at a rate of 7.7% over the next 20 years according to the US Energy Information Association. Finite resources will diminish and become harder to extract and process making it unable to keep up with demand and a shifting climate.

For those who worry about the reliability of the solar industry, solar energy actually overperformed the ERCOT model on Monday by ~1GW while almost 30GW of gas and coal plants went offline. Solar is the way of the future and no doubt the reliable choice in situations where the deregulated Texas grid fails its users. At Wells Solar we are paving the way for Central Texans to take back their power from the grid, lock in an affordable rate, and even give back energy they are not using back to the grid. As one of five Tesla Energy Certified Installers we also help you store energy for situations just like this past weekend.


Tesla Powerwall Battery

Having an emergency power source like the Tesla Powerwall allows you to save additional money on your energy bill. You use it during peak periods like when it’s blistering hot or maybe that rare freeze. Panels generate energy during the day when the sun is out; most utilities charge higher rates during peak usage periods (typically around 5-10pm, when people are home from work and school). By ensuring you have usable energy stored in a solar battery backup, the power is in your hands. Whether it’s saving money on any given night or saving your family from an emergency power outage, solar battery storage is a smart investment for all homeowners. Not only will you have a positive impact on your environment but also increase the value of your home as you do so. We make switching to renewable energy easy, hassle-free, and $0 down to get started.

We care about you, your home, and our planet at Wells Solar. Each solar install is backed by our 25 year parts & labor warranty on top of the manufacturer warranty for each of the high-quality solar products we use – quality service that lasts long after your installation. Each solar install also bring us closer to achieving a greener tomorrow – independent from the grid. Give us a call today at 888.242.0466 and learn how to save money on energy every day with a solar system powered by the sun and harnessed by Wells Solar.

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