LP&L on track for ERCOT despite concerns over winter storm outages

Updated: Feb. 16, 2021 at 11:16 PM CST
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - “We still plan to join ERCOT later this year. It’s a path that we’ve been on as Lubbock Power and Light and the city of Lubbock since 2015,” Mayor Dan Pope said Tuesday.

A seven year plan to join the state’s largest electric provider will not be derailed by a historic Texas cold snap, according to Mayor Pope.

The reason for Lubbock joining the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, also known as ERCOT, was to give consumers more choices and better prices.

But could it mean worse service during another crisis?

Frustration has mounted at ERCOT amid the single digit temperatures and snow, with more than 3 million Texans without power.

One of them, Texas Tech Chancellor Emeritus and former Lubbock Congressman Kent Hance, got caught in Austin during the unprecedented event.

He tweeted at hour 31 of no heat that he missed LP&L.

“This is a problem, what has happened today,” he said. “As upset as the governor and the speaker and the lieutenant governor are, there’ll be some changes. ERCOT was created to make sure we didn’t have brownouts during the summer and winter, and they have not fulfilled that,” Hance said.

Governor Abbott has even called for an ERCOT investigation as an emergency item for this legislative session.

Saying in a statement, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas has been anything but reliable.

“Neither ERCOT nor the Southwest Power Pool, the 2 electric grids that the state of Texas relies on, have performed as expected during this winter storm,” Mayor Pope said.

There were 27 outages in Lubbock Tuesday morning in a controlled blackout.

That affected 29,000 customers with little to no warning.

“These events happen very quickly and we have to respond very quick in order to preserve the transmission system and interconnected grid,” director of electric utilities at LP&L David McCalla said. “So, we don’t have a lot of time, we don’t have advanced notice when these steps are going to be implemented.

McCalla says Lubbock has exceeded its past winter peak demand by at least 50 Mega watts.

“When you have very high electrical demand and you have generation restrictions, something’s got to give,” he said.

“We’re still here, we’re not done. Cannot emphasize enough, the importance of the message to conserve, at this moment we’re not under the threat of power outages. That can change tomorrow [Wednesday] morning starting at 5 a.m. with just the normal demand,” city manager Jarrett Atkinson said.

Meanwhile, Mayor Pope says he has concerns about the on-going energy crisis, but refused to go into detail opting to push it off until the dangerous weather subsides.

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