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Diving into the Texas Grid Collapse

image credit: Martin Rosenberg

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Texas energy regulators and operators are investigating the causes of a massive power outage that hit the state in February during an extreme weather event. In this episode of Grid Talk, host Marty Rosenberg talks with Ken Medlock who is the Senior Director for the Center for Energy Studies at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy. Mr. Medlock is leading a group digging through the micro-data to determine exactly what happened and how cold weather could knock out the system.

“This is an issue of the entire energy ecosystem failing,” said Medlock. 

He’ll also to talk about whether the outage could have been prevented based on the knowledge gained after a similar cold snap knocked out power in 2011. 

“It should have been a warning shot. There was a study done that looked at what happened and there were suggestions, recommendations made that winterization was necessary.”

Medlock explains why those recommendations for hardening the system were not implemented and what needs to happen this time around. 

In addition to his position at the Baker Institute for Public Policy, Ken Medlock is also the director of the Masters of Energy Economics program, holds adjunct professor appointments in the Department of Economics and the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and is the chair of the faculty advisory board at the Energy and Environment Initiative at Rice University. 

He teaches advanced courses in energy economics and supervises Ph.D. students in the energy economics field. He has published numerous scholarly articles in his primary areas of interest: natural gas markets, energy commodity price relationships, gasoline markets, transportation, national oil company behavior, economic development and energy demand, and energy use and the environment. 

Mr. Medlock received his Ph.D. in economics from Rice University in May 2000.

 

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Apr 1, 2021

He’ll also to talk about whether the outage could have been prevented based on the knowledge gained after a similar cold snap knocked out power in 2011. 

“It should have been a warning shot. There was a study done that looked at what happened and there were suggestions, recommendations made that winterization was necessary.”

This is what's scary-- it wasn't completely out of the blue. But it shows how system wide, leaders are willing to ignore pressing threats. Grid resilience, climate change, grid cybersecurity, this tendency applies to some serious risks we're facing. 

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