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NBC 5 Investigates: Why ERCOT's Winter Forecasting Miss May Spell Summer Trouble

Episode 5 of 'Powerless' streaming now online, Apple TV and Roku

NBCUniversal, Inc.

An NBC 5 investigation shows how ERCOT severely underestimated the amount of electricity Texans would need if the weather got bad this winter, and why some experts fear that big miss raises deeper questions about ERCOT’s forecasting methods and the risk of power outages this summer.

By mid-June Texans were already facing concerns about electricity shortages, prompting ERCOT to issue an unprecedented week-long warning to conserve power.

At the start of the summer, ERCOT said there should be no reason to worry about outages during the hot stern outages this summer.

But the last time ERCOT assured Texans there would be enough power was before the winter. And then came the devastating power crisis of February 2021.

In February, a massive number of power generators unexpectedly shut down, something ERCOT said it never imagined would happen. But that’s only one part of how they got it wrong this winter. Records also show power demand during the February storm far exceeded even ERCOT’s worst-case scenario forecast for the winter season, raising concerns about whether ERCOT’s forecasting error led the grid operator to underestimate the risks ahead of the storm.

Now in this episode of “Powerless” NBC5 Investigates learns how better forecasting models might help Texas predict electric demand more accurately and identify scenarios that could put the power grid under severe stress.


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