Days without power in the freezing cold. Thousands of dollars in electricity bills. The terrible consequences of the Texas power outages prompt the question: can it happen here?
When considering what happened to Texas, it’s important to note that the outages were caused by generation failure. We are an energy delivery company, and do not generate power. Our regional transmission operator – PJM – is responsible for managing that portion of the grid. We work closely with PJM to test the system, so these types of blackouts don’t occur in our territory.
We’re also different than Texas in that our grid is very interconnected. If generation were to fail, PJM can pull energy from other parts of Pennsylvania and neighboring states to continue powering your homes and businesses.
At PPL, we’re ahead of most utilities for addressing aging infrastructure and integrating new technologies. We believe our power grid, with its combination of over 10,000 sensors, communication systems, and automation, is one of the most advanced in the United States.
Because of this, since 2011, our customers have experienced 30% fewer outages and see less outages during storms.
Take for instance winter storm Riley (2018) and Superstorm Sandy (2012). Both had comparable wind gusts, but our system performed better during 2018 because of the upgrades. In fact, during Riley we only saw 200,000 minutes lost to transmission outages compared to over 57 million minutes lost to transmission outages during Sandy.
While we are prepared to weather storms, we continue to advocate for our customers when it comes to variable rates. In Texas, the damage to people’s lives caused by the outages was compounded by the massive price spikes and huge electricity bills.
Similar price spikes occurred in Pennsylvania during the 2014 polar vortex. Yet, there have been no limits placed on variable rates charged by electric generation suppliers, which means history could repeat itself.
That’s why we have been proactively advocating for the necessary customer protections, including more restrictions around variable rates and marketing tactics.
These Texas power problems offer valuable lessons – from grid hardening, to reliability, to issues with shopping for the best rate. Through it all, we remain committed to protecting our 1.4 million customers, so these Texas-sized power problems do not happen here.