FERC releases final report on Texas power outages (2021)

"Those Who Do Not Learn History Are Doomed To Repeat It."

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has published its final report on the Texas 2021 power outages. According to FERC during the last 10 years, there have been four extreme cold weather events which have threatened the Texas power grid. That includes the 2011 Texas power outage during which hundreds of people died.

As found after past weather events, investigators determined that most of the power outages could have been avoided if power plants and wind turbines had been better protected against the cold and ice.

Eighty-one percent of freeze-related generating unit outages occurred at temperatures above the units' stated ambient design temperature.

Eighty-seven percent of unplanned generation outages were due to fuel issues related to natural gas.

Natural gas fuel supply issues were caused by natural gas production declines.

Some recommendations by FERC include:

Generator owners should retrofit existing generating units, and when building new units account for weather events including extreme temperatures.

Generator owners and operators should perform annual training on winterization plans.

Develop corrective action plans should freeze-related outages occur.

However, Texas maintains its electric grid as an isolated island, and hasn't followed past recommendations to avoid electric grid outages.

Yet, in spite of claims of TX being an island, customers all over the country are now being forced to pay energy surcharges specifically tied to the Feb 2021 TX event. It was a line item on my last bill.

“specifically tied to” ≠ "Caused by."

Do you mean to say that an ELECTRIC bill elsewhere in the country has gone up SPECIFICALLY because of what happened last February in Texas? I note the use of the phrasing “energy surcharges” without specifying what kind of energy.

You may have a natural gas line item, but that was not CAUSED BY what happened in Texas. It was in the same timeframe, but what happened was a weather issue, not a Texas issue. Unusually extreme cold weather across an unusually large part of the country caused temporary insane demand in the natural gas markets around the country, resulting in huge spikes in cost for natural gas on the spot market. Some gas utilities around the country had prepared for such an eventuality by storing gas or with long-term price contracts, others did not.

That does not necessarily mean Texas CAUSED the problem.


Which is a double whammy for Californians after Enron managed to triple our electric rates practically overnight
through their nefarious acts.


Yeah, some additional specifics about this would be helpful.

I see no new charges on my nat gas gas bills in my state (NY) going back 4 months that I still had laying around.

More specifics:

Centerpoint is charging Minnesota natgas customers a surcharge specific to the Feb 2021 event. It is a line item listed as the ‘Feb 2021 Weather Event’ on the October and November bills with a per-therm surcharge. The surcharge rate was different between Oct and Nov.

Xcel Energy has also recently added a “February 2021 Weather Event - Pricing Event Surcharge” to their MN natgas rate book:

Much electric generation depends on natgas.

Xcel Energy is charging at least one wholesale electric customer in Colorado a highly increased ‘fuel cost adjustment’ (FCA). As this wholesale customer is an electric co-op, they will pass this on to their own retail customers.

Xcel also has FCAs on their retail electric customer bills; it would not surprise me to see those also be moved upwards, even if they don’t itemize out the reason for increase as being the Feb 2021 event. Increases in these FCAs may be constrained by state level PUCs, but the utility workaround is the duration.

Other utilities also have added surcharges:
Gas surcharge:


Gas and electric surcharges in Cedar Falls, IA due to the price spike from the same event.

It is possible that some US utilities may not add surcharges, or if they do add them, they may disguise them under existing fuel cost adjustment charges rather than as highly visible line items. A large jump in surcharges may be an indicator this is happening.

Although the cold weather event was not limited to the Texas area, the problems of frozen-out natgas supply infrastructure and electric infrastructure (which are interdependent) were concentrated on equipment operated by entities in Texas. Surely the weather event increased demand to some degree; at the same time a sudden loss of natgas supply compounded the demand pressure on the remaining supply, and both factors combined to drive a market price spike. The severe weather event itself was unavoidable* but survivable; the frozen infrastructure issues were clearly preventable.

*Unavoidable, if one ignores the possibility the event may have been a side effect of human-activity-induced climate chaos.