As the ice finally thawed, the finger-pointing began in the aftermath of the historic storm that swept across Texas. Yet as we learn more about how the storm affected our state’s electricity grid, it has become clear that much of the blame does not reflect reality.
To be certain, every energy system faced challenges to remain online as infrastructure froze and demand soared. That is what happens when a southern state like Texas gets slammed with record freezing temperatures that we normally associate with North Dakota or Montana.
During normal weather, thanks to our state’s abundant natural resources, including natural gas, wind, coal and, increasingly, solar, alternate as the primary fuel that powers the electricity grid depending on the time of day. But during the week of Feb. 15, as temperatures plummeted and demand skyrocketed, it was natural gas that became the dominant fuel in Texas’ energy mix during all hours of the day, as shown by data from the Energy Information Administration.
Natural gas was consistently able to generate upwards of 40,000 megawatt hours of electricity when every other source struggled to reach half that amount. In fact, at the height of the storm, natural gas generated more electricity than all other energy sources — combined.