Pablo Vegas, the new CEO of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, attended his first board meeting, where he spoke about his long-term plan to regain the trust of Texas consumers.
ERCOT’s power grid failed for days during the historic winter storm in February 2021, leaving hundreds of Texans dead and millions of people in the dark and cold. Since then, state leaders, regulators, and ERCOT have been trying to devise a plan to prevent a similar disaster in the future.
“The weatherization efforts we have made have had a real impact,” Vegas said. “We are bringing resources online earlier so that there’s always cushion and reserves available should something change in the conditions of the grid at any point in time.”
In addition, ERCOT is adding more transmission lines and redesigning the electricity market to keep power generation companies in Texas.
Vegas said, “It is only through consistent and successful execution under a variety of conditions and scenarios that we can re-earn the trust of all Texans that their grid is sound and reliable. We have had the opportunity to do that with recent tests. In fact, just last Wednesday, Oct. 12, Texas set a new peak record for the highest energy demand for the month of October.”
ERCOT’s systems have withstood the test of dozens of record energy peaks this year, including an all-time high energy peak in July, hitting 80 gigawatts for the first time. Vegas applauded the system for staying on in the midst of the summer heat and meeting the record demand for power.
However, the cost of electricity is likely to keep increasing due to higher fuel and natural gas prices, increased costs for ancillary services, and investment in wind and solar that are not reliable. Ancillary services include things needed to convey electricity from the producer to the consumer.
Vegas express optimism for the future of ERCOT.
“This is a very exciting time to be in the energy industry,” he said. “And in Texas, we are well positioned to chart that path forward, which is going to become a model for the energy industry both nationally as well as globally.”