Failures in All Types of Power Drove Texas Outages, Says Southern CEO


The Texas power outages that left millions shivering in the cold were caused by the failure of both traditional thermal power plants and renewable energy sources, said Southern Company Chief Executive Officer Tom Fanning.

This was a big weather event that “affected all forms of generation, whether it was renewable or gas,” said Fanning. “It was a comprehensive effect, so this finger-pointing shouldn’t come into play.”

Texas Governor Greg Abbott and other conservatives have blamed the outages on renewable energy sources like wind and solar. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, meanwhile, attributed the shortages primarily to frozen instruments at natural gas, coal and nuclear plants.

Fanning said a big factor in the outages is the fact that Texas is basically an “energy island” in the U.S. with few ways to move power into the state. The Texas power market also prioritizes inexpensive power over reliability during extreme weather. “It’s an ‘energy only’ market. They set rules that reward participants for providing cheap energy,” he said. “Those rules don’t necessarily reward measures of resilience.”

Southern Company reported its earnings Thursday morning. The company said its beleaguered Vogtle nuclear power plant may face another round of delays after coronavirus cases surged at the Georgia construction site, according to a regulatory filing Thursday.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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