Colorado residents were spared from the massive power outages last week that left more than 4 million Texas households in the dark and bitter cold, put 14 million under orders to boil their tap water and left an untold number coping with empty store shelves and disrupted lives.
Nor did they have to cope with the more localized outages that hit residents of Oregon, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky. Nor was a power system failure an issue here as it was with the Southwest Power Pool, which covers Kansas, Oklahoma and parts of another dozen states across the Great Plains.
The SPP instituted rolling blackouts for the first time in its 80-year history to head off a total collapse of its system as demand for power exceeded supply for several days.
Dennis Wamsted, an analyst with the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, said the electricity market in Texas incentivizes companies to keep costs as low as possible, meaning they aren’t as likely to pay to insulate equipment and plants for the kind of “almost unprecedented” cold weather that gripped the state last week.
“I’m not sure there are any real lessons for Colorado. I think that there are a lot of places around the world, including Colorado, where we’re much more used to cold weather. Because we have cold spells far more often, there’s a lot more investment that’s been made to make sure that equipment works during cold weather,” said Will Toor, executive director of the Colorado Energy Office.
[Aldo Svaldi and Judith Kohler]