Image courtesy of Chrishna and used under a Creative Commons license.
Severe weather events – whether hurricanes, wildfires, cold snaps, or heat waves – increasingly play a role in the lives of Americans. While extreme weather creates all sorts of problems, high on the list is the stress they put on the electric grid. Prior to this year, the 2014 Polar Vortex has been pointed to by those concerned about the ability of the electric grid to withstand severe weather events, and we’ve noted how wind and demand response helped keep the lights on during that cold snap. But in 2018, it was an expected heat wave in Texas that loomed as a potential threat to the grid. Would the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the grid operator that relies more on market principles than any other in the country, be able to keep on the lights? The answer turned out to be yes – with lessons that could prove instructive to the 116th Congress when it convenes in January.