Does Texas have its own power grid?

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Texas has its own state-run electrical grid.

The context

True, Texas operates and is powered by its own power grid known as Texas Interconnection (TIS). It should be noted that some parts of the state are not tied to the grid. TIS also has the ability to connect to other power grids in some locations, as was the case when the state imported power from Mexico in 2011.

Fact check

The Lone Star State is home to its own state-regulated power grid, known as the Texas Interconnect.

The question of whether Texas generates its own electricity is a question Snopes’ team has seen time and time again. We often see this trend during times of energy crisis, as was the case in 2021, when the state power grid went down, or when energy politics and prices hit the headlines. Such was the case in June 2022 when US Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican representing Texas, tweeted that “the impact of President Biden being beholden to Green New Deal radicals in his party has electricity costs through the roof in Texas”.

Yes, it is true that Texas has its own power grid. The Texas Interconnection (TIS) is one of five alternating current (AC) power systems known in North America as the interconnects, according to the United States Office of Electricity. TIS covers most of the state and covers all electrical utilities maintained as part of the system, each electrically linked and operating at a “synchronized frequency” averaging 60 hertz under normal system conditions .

The U.S. power grid is made up of two major power grids and three minor power grids called interconnections: the eastern and western interconnections are the most important, followed by the Texas, Quebec, and Alaska interconnections. Several smaller interconnects are housed within these larger entities. Public domain

Texas ownership of its power grid is not necessarily for technical reasons, but rather for political reasons, the Texas Tribune reported in 2011: namely, to avoid federal authorities. Power grids that cross state lines are managed by the US Department of Energy, which is responsible for the national energy program, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which regulates the sale and transmission of electricity in interstate commerce.

But because the TIS does not cross state lines, the system can avoid regulation by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and is instead managed by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). Some 26 million Texans and 90% of the electric load depend on more than 52,700 miles of transmission lines contained in the TIS. As a nonprofit organization, ERCOT is subject to oversight by the Public Utility Commission of Texas and the Texas Legislature.

It’s no secret that Texas is rich in energy. The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports that Texas generates more electricity than any other state, and nearly twice as much as second-place Florida. Energy prices are typically determined by a combination of fuel costs, power plant availability, demand variations and the availability of generation sources, notes the US Energy Information Administration. This cost varies from minute to minute, and in warm climates like Texas, prices are highest in the summer when total air conditioning demand increases.

In the Lone Star State, these prices are set by ERCOT.

To understand the history of ERCOT, it is also necessary to take a quick look back at the American electricity grid in the 20th century. In 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Federal Power Act, which gave the Federal Power Commission the authority to oversee interstate electricity sales. But Texas wanted to stay out of federal oversight, especially since its network didn’t cross state lines.

The creation of TIS can trace its history back to World War II, when 10 independent power grids across the state connected to send excess electricity to the coast for manufacturing, according to ERCOT. Likewise, utility companies across the country have begun to band together to be more productive, organized, and responsive both in times of emergency and to more efficiently manufacture and export goods to troops overseas.

Following a blackout on November 9, 1965, when 30 million people in the northeastern United States lost power, lawmakers created the National Electric Reliability Council, now known as from the North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC). Five years later, ERCOT was founded to run the Texas grid to national standards, but still out of federal fingers. (For more on ERCOT’s history, check out this explainer from NBC Austin affiliate KXAN.)

It should also be noted that the Texas power supply is neither completely independent nor does it cover the entire state. El Paso is on its own grid, as are parts of northeast and southeast Texas. In 2011, following power outages, Texas also imported electricity from Mexico, as well as two ties to the Eastern United States grid.)


Sources

Archive.Ph. https://archive.ph/oiee1. Accessed June 7, 2022.

Cohn, Julie. “When the Network Was the Network: The Brief Story of the Coast-to-Coast North American Interconnected Machine [Scanning Our Past].” Proceedings of the IEEE, vol. 107, no. 1, Jan. 2019, p. 232–43. IEEE Xplore, https://doi.org/10.1109/JPROC.2018.2880938.

DG – Distributed Generation. https://www.puc.texas.gov/industry/electric/business/dg/dg.aspx. Accessed June 7, 2022.

“Does Biden support the Green New Deal?” Snopes.Com, https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/does-biden-support-green-new-deal/. Accessed June 7, 2022.

Texas Electrical Reliability Board. https://www.ercot.com/. Accessed June 7, 2022.

Information document on the ERCOT organization. https://www.ercot.com/news/mediakit/backgrounder#:~:text=Founded%20in%201970%2C%20ERCOT%20is,grid%20serving%20most%20of%20Texas. Accessed June 7, 2022.

“EXPLAINER: Why the Electric Grid Failed in Texas and Beyond.” Snopes.Com, https://www.snopes.com/ap/2021/02/17/why-the-power-grid-failed-in-texas-and-beyond/. Accessed June 7, 2022.

Galbraith, Kate. “Texplainer: Why does Texas have its own power grid? The Texas Tribune, February 8, 2011, https://www.texastribune.org/2011/02/08/texplainer-why-does-texas-have-its-own-power-grid/.

Helman, Christopher. “Power outages force Texas to import electricity from Mexico.” Forbes, https://www.forbes.com/sites/christopherhelman/2011/02/03/rolling-blackouts-force-texas-to-import-power-from-mexico/. Accessed June 7, 2022.

“Learn more about Interconnects.” Energy.Gov, https://www.energy.gov/oe/services/electricity-policy-coordination-and-implementation/transmission-planning/recovery-act-0. Accessed June 7, 2022.

OAKTrust Home. https://oaktrust.library.tamu.edu/. Accessed June 7, 2022.

Prices and Factors Affecting Prices – US Energy Information Administration (EIA). https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/electricity/prices-and-factors-affecting-prices.php#:~:text=Changes%20in%20prices%20generally%20reflect,to%20meet%20the%20increased%20demand . Accessed June 7, 2022.

“The ERCOT Story: How Texas Became the Only State With Its Own Electric Grid.” KXAN Austin, February 24, 2021, https://www.kxan.com/news/texas/the-history-of-ercot-how-texas-became-the-only-state-with-its-own-power-la gate/.



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