SWEPCO says they were prepared for the winter storm in Texas versus ERCOT

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SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – As we saw millions lose power in Texas under ERCOT’s independent power grid. SWEPCO said they were far more prepared for the winter weather.

SWEPCO said their grid operates much differently than ERCOT. SWEPCO is a member utility managed by the Southwest Power Pool that includes 14 states and 800 generation facilities. Which SWEPCO officials said made their grid a lot more resilient than what was seen in west Texas.

“It really comes back to how it’s all managed. We certainly feel like the SPP grid that we’re a part of our was managed much better. We prepared for this. We saw the cold weather coming,” said Michael Corbin, SWEPCO External Affairs Manager for Louisiana.

SWEPCO supplies power to deep East and north Texas. The grid runs from Louisiana to the Canadian border, so Corbin said it experiences a lot of winter weather and was in better shape to handle extreme temperatures versus ERCOT that provides power to the majority of Texans.

“They had a large number of power plants that either were not online or were too cold to bring them online. Or they are also some natural gas curtailments for their natural gas plants, so they did not have an adequate amount of natural gas to power those plants. They had coal plants where the coal froze and they couldn’t burn it in their furnaces, so a lot of things went on their because they’re exempt from federal guidelines,” Corbin said.

The winter storm was so unprecedented that for the first time ever SPP had to call for controlled outages to sustain the power grid. Corbin said SWEPCO held rolling blackouts on that Monday and Tuesday where people’s power was turned off for about two hours and after that the grid stabilized.

He said SWEPCO is also dedicated to diversifying their power grid with a mix of fossil fuels and renewable energy. They’re building a new wind farm in north Texas and the Oklahoma panhandle that was not online during the storm but is built to handle extreme winter weather.

“On any given day, summer or winter, there’s about 60 percent of the power that generated that’s coming from wind right now. So, we believe in renewable. We’ve done a lot to expand. We’ve done a lot with wind in the last two years, and we’ve got some solar projects that are in the works as well,” Corbin said.

As far as customer’s electricity bills, Corbin said because so much natural gas was needed during the cold temperatures there will be a spike in fuel costs.

But it would not show up on people’s bills until at least two months from now. However SWEPCO is working with the Public Service Commission and regulators this week to spread out the costs over a year or two year period so people are hit with a large bill all at once.

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