WASHINGTON (ABC7) — A massive winter storm and lingering sub-zero temperatures have crippled Texas and created a power grid failure that has left millions of Texans without power.
As the storm heads our way, is it possible the same thing can happen to our power grid?
Dr. Eric Wachsman, the Director of the Maryland Energy Innovation Institute at the University of Maryland says it's not likely.
Wachsman explained that natural gas pipelines in Texas aren't protected with the type of insulation that we have. Their heavy reliance on fossil fuels like natural gas for heat and electricity caused disruption to the grid when those pipes froze.
“Their grid was really just not designed to handle the capacity that’s necessary to heat all the homes and businesses when it got this cold, so that resulted in the rolling blackouts that they observed," Wachsman said.
Wachsman explained that Texas is unique in that it has its own power grid separate from the rest of the county. Deregulation of power supply in the state has led to Texans being able to pick and choose their energy sources, which aren't regulated.
This latest storm exposed the problem with a free market of energy without regulation, Wachsman explained.
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"In Maryland, we’re able to select different providers with our utility bills, so there’s various degrees of it (deregulation)," Wachsman said. "It just may be that they’re more of the extreme case. "
Ultimately, Wachsman said that the solution to the problem is distributed power, getting away from centralized power and gas lines. He used solar power as an example, as well as batteries on your house just in case.
"So even if the grid goes out in Maryland, I still have power here because I have the battery as a back-up," Wachsman said.
You can watch the full interview with Dr. Eric Wachsman below.