Hurricane Harvey caused electric system outages and affected wind generation in Texas
Hurricane Harvey caused substantial electricity outages, as power plants and transmission infrastructure—particularly in south Texas and along the Gulf Coast—were affected by high winds and significant flooding. At its peak, more than 10,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity generating capacity in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) grid and a substantial number of transmission and distribution lines experienced forced outages. At the same time, relatively cool temperatures across much of Texas also reduced electricity demand.
Power plant outages were largely caused by rain or flooding affecting generator fuel supplies, outages of transmission infrastructure connecting generators to the grid, and personnel not being able to reach generating facilities.
Hundreds of high-voltage transmission lines, including six 345 kilovolt (kV) lines and more than two hundred 69 kV–138 kV lines experienced storm-related forced outages. Most of these transmission facilities were located in the immediate area along the Gulf Coast of Texas where the hurricane made landfall, but some were in the Houston area, where transmission facilities were damaged by flooding.
Electricity demand in ERCOT was significantly lower than usual for the time of year mainly because of the customer outages in storm-affected areas in south Texas and along the Gulf Coast and cooler temperatures across much of the state. Daily maximum temperatures in many parts of the state were in the high 90s to above 100 degrees Fahrenheit during the week before and fell to the 70s and 80s during the hurricane. Despite the significant amount of generator outages, ERCOT was able to meet total electricity demand in part because of the lower levels of demand.