NERC to investigate why cold caused generators to go offline in Texas

Houston, February 3, 2011 — Federal regulators will investigate why about 50 electricity generating units in Texas failed during the past week's snowstorms.

The power plant failures caused demand to exceed available power, leading the Electric Reliability Council of Texas to order planned rolling blackouts that affected hundreds of thousands of people.

The North American Electric Reliability Corp. told reporters that they will investigate the adequacy of current cold weather preparations and safeguards used by plant operators in Texas.

It is not unusual for power plants in the northern U.S. to be more thoroughly weatherized against the cold than plants in the South — whereas Southern power facilities are typically better equipped to handle summer heat.

The more than 50 power units that went offline or ran at impaired capacity levels represented about 7,000 MW of generating capacity. The plants became unable to operate Wednesday when snowstorms hit and temperatures dropped below freezing.

ERCOT operates the power grid for 22 million Texas customers, representing 85 percent of the state's electric load and 75 percent of the state's land area.

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