Current extreme cold and winter conditions in the Central United States have left millions of Americans without power in Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana. As the cold weather rolled in, residents and businesses increased electricity demand to stay warm. In addition, the extreme winter conditions caused obstacles to the availability of generation. As a result, the decreased amount of generation was not able to meet demand in these states, primarily Texas.
In response, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (“NERC”) announced a joint inquiry into bulk-power system operations during these winter events. While FERC and NERC advise utilities to remain focused on restoring power, the federal agencies note that a formal investigation is forthcoming. FERC and NERC will collaborate with various federal, state, and regional entities to ascertain and attempt to resolve the problems that led to the power outages.
The House of Representatives also announced that they would be conducting an investigation into the outages. This may add urgency to proposals to fund grid modernization as part of an infrastructure package that may be taken up by Congress in 2021.
Current updates from the Department of Energy are available here.