As temperatures dropped in early February and Texans braced for severe winter weather, state officials assured the public the power grid was better prepared to handle freezing temperatures compared to 2020.
In a Feb. 3 news conference, Gov. Greg Abbott listed the reasons why he believed Texans should have confidence in the grid: “As compared to last year, Texas has about 15% more power generation capacity.”
Seasonal data from grid operator Electric Reliability Council of Texas indicates available generation capacity is at 85,000 megawatts for winter 2021-2022, up from 83,000 megawatts in winter 2020-2021.
That comes out to be a 2% increase. So where did Abbott get 15%?
Abbott referred to installed capacity
Abbott’s office referred PolitiFact Texas to the Texas Public Utility Commission, which oversees ERCOT.
According to ERCOT and PUC officials, the 15% cited by Abbott describes an increase in total installed capacity from 102,874 megawatts in winter 2020 to 118,257 megawatts in winter 2021.
Total installed capacity refers to the maximum amount of power that can be generated under ideal conditions.
“That’s just if everything we had on the grid was operating at its full output. That’s what it could make,” said Joshua Rhodes, research associate at the University of Texas at Austin Energy Institute and Webber Energy Group.
However, at any given time, the grid isn’t producing at 100% potential, experts told PolitiFact Texas. For example, the sun isn’t always shining for solar energy, or the wind isn’t always blowing for wind energy, Doug Lewin, energy consultant and president of Stoic Energy Consulting, said as example.
“It’s sort of more of a theoretical potential,” Lewin said…
Read the full story and see how Abbott’s claim rated at PolitiFact Texas.
Listen to an interview with PolitiFact’s Nusaiba Mizan in the audio player above.