13 Investigates 'failing' grid costing Texans more than money

Higher prices when demand is high was meant to incentivize companies to build more generators and plants. Last week proved that didn't happen.

Video Transcript

- Today we're learning more about what went wrong with ERCOT during Texas' deadly winter storm.

- ABC 13's data analyst, Keaton Fox, joining us now with more on what we know at this point. Keaton?

KEATON FOX: We just heard Governor Abbott talk about all of those sources failing. We actually have a new bit of data here. This is those days that went by and the sources as they went offline. So the numbers go up as sources go offline.

This green graph here is natural gas. When things got really bad, you see it spike. We lost 15,000 megawatts of natural gas for 48 hours here. You can see this is solar-- Or sorry, wind power rather.

They had a bump as well, but not nearly as dramatic as natural gas. And this right here represents 50% of the entire generation of the state of Texas that was offline for at least two full days. Now, we had an opportunity to talk with Ted Oberg a little earlier. And Ted, I'm curious, what, as you go to Austin to listen to these hearings, what are the things you actually expect to hear?

TED OBERG: Well, I think twofold. With these hearings, it's always sort of optimism and pessimism going in. Optimistically, we know lawmakers want change. They want this reform from the governor on down. And so we hope that there are some real serious questions about how so much power was lost for so long and maybe the signals that we've missed for more than a decade. Pessimistically, what a lot of these hearings devolve into is a lot of speeches and statements from politicians who want to be on camera and not necessarily a lot of change, at least not right away.

KEATON FOX: I was wondering about the politics, the theater here and the politics. Because we've been looking at how much natural gas was lost versus wind, and that has already been an issue politically speaking. Do we think that we're going to see a lot of political theater?

TED OBERG: Of course we'll see political theater. This is happening on the floor of the Senate and in a House meeting room. Of course there will be political theater, but I think there are also enough people who are invested and knowledgeable about what happened last week that we will get some real answers about, if not exactly what went wrong, but maybe the start of what can be done to fix it.

KEATON FOX: And that's the big question. We're starting to learn what went wrong, but I don't want to lose my power again, Ted. What do you think we'll hear as far as real change?

TED OBERG: Tomorrow, not a whole lot. But I think one of the things that we start with, and we do this tonight at 10:00, we look at how has the system we've had for the last 20 years, this deregulated grid, has it worked for Texans? And there are some signs that it's not saving us money and it certainly was not reliable last week. I think what we will see is some way to sort of change the incentives to get power companies to start putting some more power in reserve for these really cold or really hot days coming up this summer.

KEATON FOX: Ted Oberg, best of the best. Ted, thanks. We look forward to hearing your report tonight at 10:00. Guys, back to you.