Today marked the worst ice storm to hit San Antonio since the Ground Hog Day storm of February 2, 2011. That day the impact on the roads was about the same, the number of accidents and schools that were cancelled were about the same...but there was one big difference.
In 2011 we also had to deal with 'rolling blackouts' because the state's power grid was not able to meet the demand for electric power. Today, not only were there no blackouts, the power used was well below the supply of electricity that was available.
Robbie Searcey of ERCOT, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which operates the state power grid, says there are a couple of major reasons why the lights stayed on today.
"Fortunately, the generation companies that supply the power to the grid, have been able to keep plenty of generation available through the course of the morning peak," Searcey said.
She says there was also an 'unexpected event' in 2011 that led to the rolling blackouts.
"A lot of generation went off line (in 2011)," she said. "About 8,000 megawatts of generation was unexpectedly unavailable that morning."
She said the electric demand from the ice storm three years ago was about the same as it was today, but today several thousand megawatts were still available, even after the peak demand period in the middle of today's ice storm."
She says the utilities that make up ERCOT have also been working together to make sure power is available.
"Every day that our operators come in, they are looking very closely at what we expect electric use to be, and working very close with the transmissions companies to keep up with the demand," she said. "Since February 2011, the generation transmission companies did come together and work together to identify what those best practices are, to help prepare your power plants for this sort of weather event."
Searcey says the generation companies have implemented 'more aggressive' weatherization plans.
"That doesn't guarantee that they won't run into some issues, and there were some challenges overnight, but not enough that we didn't have enough power available."