Yes, Lubbock is still joining the ERCOT power grid
Lubbock leaders are keeping a close eye on the Texas House and Senate hearings beginning Thursday about last week's winter storm that crashed the state's power grid.
Subzero temperatures caused a spike in electrical demand that required controlled rotating outages over two days. But unlike in some Texas cities, those outages were actually brief.
The city was largely unaffected by power failure thanks to timing.
“June 1 of this year, we’re set to migrate 70% of our electrical grid over to the ERCOT market,” Lubbock Power and Light spokesman Matt Rose explained this week. “We’ve already begun the process of looking at the remaining 30% and what it will take to carry that across the line.”
LP&L is currently connected to the Southwest Power Pool, an electric grid that goes up through North Dakota. Rose said this grid had its problems, too. But not like the grid that’s operated by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT.
“This past week was the result of multiple types of infrastructure and multiple different industries all not performing well,” Rose said.
Lubbock’s move to the ERCOT grid is years, and millions of dollars, in the making. As recently reported by the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, its been a dramatic process at times.
Rose gave a few reasons for the switch. It was the cheapest solution to a contract the city wanted out of. It’ll offer a more diverse energy supply. And eventually, it’ll allow for a competitive retail electric market - which Lubbock doesn’t have right now.
But after the ERCOT grid failed millions of Texans last week, Lubbockites are asking if the transition is a done deal.
“Our citizens are concerned and they have every right to be,” Mayor Dan Pope said.
He said he shares those concerns. He’ll be following the Texas Senate and House hearings closely this week, as well as other investigations into what exactly happened during the winter storm. As a new member of ERCOT, he hopes Lubbock has a say in solutions.
And those solutions, he said, should include winterization of infrastructure, from electricity generation through transmission.
“It’s a solvable problem,” Pope said. “Energy grids all across the country operate in much colder weather than what we get in Texas. But we should be able to count on it on the hottest day of the summer and the coldest day of the winter.
“I still believe in ERCOT. I do think, though, there needs to be a bit of oversight.”
Questions remain about the state’s power supply, but Pope said the city is going forward with the shift to the ERCOT grid.
“The reality of it is, we’re five and half years and more than $100 million into this transition,” he said.
Lubbock's power needs will account for less than 1% of ERCOT's total capacity.
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