Texas, unaccustomed to the frigid temperatures that would pass for a normal winter in other parts of the country, should consider connecting its power grid to nearby states and take better preparations for what are likely to be more extreme weather events caused by a changing climate, according to Northeastern faculty experts.

Texas is unique in that its grid isn’t linked to the rest of the country because it didn’t want to have to comply with federal electricity regulations for selling power across state lines, explains Jennie C. Stephens, dean’s professor of sustainability science and policy at Northeastern.

“The problem with that is in the very cold conditions, the demand for electricity went way up and they didn’t have sufficient supply,” says Stephens, who is also director of the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs and director of strategic research collaborations in the Global Resilience Institute.

One reason for interconnecting grids is to improve reliability when a sudden need for power occurs, says Ali Abur, professor of electrical and computer engineering at Northeastern.

“You can import power from your neighbors who may have spare generation, but this is not possible for the Texas grid since it is not interconnected with the two large North American grids,” adds Abur, who also serves as Northeastern’s director at the Center for Ultra-Wide-Area Resilient Electric Energy Transmission Networks (CURENT), which includes three other universities.


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