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Winter Storms Report: Reliability and Resilience in the Balance

Reliability and Resilience in the Balance

Building sustainable infrastructure for a reliable future.

A vision beyond Winter Storms Uri and Viola.

The tragic impacts of Winter Storms Uri and Viola on Texas and its energy system were catastrophic. While the tragedy impacted all infrastructure sectors, several stood out as the most adversely impacted. Members of the Texas Section of American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE Texas Section) took a deep dive into the facts to provide recommendations for building reliable and resilient infrastructure—our vision for Texas beyond Winter Storms Uri and Viola.

There is no effective tool to be able to allocate specific responsibility of what impacts were directly from the weather itself, what was directly impacted by the failure of the electric grid and what were indirect impacts. ASCE believes that the failure of the electricity network was directly and indirectly a material contributor to the economic harm and human tragedy experienced during and after Winter Storms Uri and Viola.

On the anniversary of the 2021 Winter Storm Systems—February 16, 2022, ASCE Texas Section held a virtual news conference to announce the report’s findings and recommendation: Watch the Report release news conference

View & Download the Executive Summary

View the Full Report

You can find a Glossary of Terms and Acronyms for the Report here.

Public Utility Commission of Texas Filing – September 2021

Preceding this report and based on the same analysis, ASCE Texas Section filed a report for the Public Utilities Commission of Texas (PUC or PUCT), regarding electrical market design comments related to 2021 Winter Storms. Submitted September 30, 2021, view the public filing here (PUC Project No. 52373; Item #149).

About the Report and the Beyond Storms Infrastructure Network Resilience (INR) Task Committee

The ASCE Texas Beyond Storms INR Task Committee members are technical experts within their respective practice area(s). The team is a combination of public servants, private consultants, and educators. Past Texas Infrastructure Report Card Committee member, Geoff Roberts serves as the Chair of the Committee. Executive Director Jenni Peters, CAE serves as the staff point of contact for the committee. You are welcome to contact the ASCE Texas Section office with any questions about the committee.

The 25-member committee collected and complied state-wide data, developing a written report for each sector, then analyzed the available information to put forth recommended actions for focused improvements. Building on the overarching recommendations, the committee also felt it important to offer more targeted, sector-specific actions and investments needed to enhance the reliability of the network. All of this and more can be found in the Executive Summary and Full Report links above.

Thank You

At the peak of Winter Storm Uri, members of the ASCE Texas Section began to informally review the impacts of the storm on critical infrastructure.  This effort quickly became formalized with the formation of the Beyond Storms Infrastructure Resilience Task Committee, tasked with the responsibility of analyzing what happened during the storm and, from that analysis, propose recommendations to improve the reliability and resilience of this critical infrastructure in the future.  The team is composed of volunteer engineers from across the State of Texas and represent various infrastructure sector experts (power, energy, water, telecommunications, and transportation), with a specialized sub-team focused on weather and network level issues that arose from disconnects between the infrastructure sectors.

Countless hours and commitments have been made by these volunteers, and as Texans, we owe them a debt of gratitude and thanks.

Report Presentations and Interviews

Have a question about the Reliability & Resilience in the Balance Report or want to know how your community can help? Contact us using one of the options below.

  • Members of the media or to request an audience with an ASCE Texas spokesperson, please contact: Jenni Peters, Executive Director at 512-910-2272 or [email protected].
  • Looking for a speaker from ASCE Texas to speak on this Report, please contact: Jenni Peters, Executive Director at 512-910-2272 or [email protected].

Sample Presentation Abstract:
Title: Reliability and Resilience in the Balance: A vision beyond Winter Storms Uri  Viola
Brief Abstract: In the aftermath of the 2021 Winter Storms Uri and Viola, and the near collapse of the Texas Electrical Power Generation and Distribution Grid, 25 members of the Texas Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) volunteered to undertake the responsibility of analyzing the collective infrastructure failures.  Over the next 12 months, the group investigated the separate and integrated operations of natural gas production and transport, electrical power generation and distribution, telecommunications operations, water and wastewater operations, transportation systems, weather history, and the interaction of all the systems of infrastructure when stressed by extreme weather events. The recommendations for dramatically improving the reliability and resilience of the Texas Electrical Power Generation and Distribution system associated with these extreme events were offered to the Public Utilities Commission of Texas (PUC/PUCT) in October of 2021, and the formal report (123 pages) released to the public on February 16, 2022—on the 1-year anniversary of the storms.  Our presentation highlights the key findings and recommendations of this effort.

Texas’ Infrastructure Report Card

Every four years, the ASCE Texas Section’s Infrastructure Report Card (IRC) Committee prepares a Texas Infrastructure Report Card update. This committee prepared report cards on the state level in 2004, 2008, 2021, and 2017, with the most recent report releasing February 10, 2021. This report card is an important advocacy tool used to support the ASCE Texas Section advocacy efforts during Texas legislative sessions. It also serves an important role in raising public awareness and providing elected officials the necessary tools to support infrastructure funding.

Learn more about the Texas Infrastructure Report Card

America’s Infrastructure Report Card

The American Society of Civil Engineers prepared infrastructure report cards at the national level in 1998, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2009, 2013, and 2017, with the 2021 report releasing March 2021. These report cards have been endorsed by numerous professional and technical societies. They serve an important role in raising public awareness and providing elected officials the necessary tools to support infrastructure funding.

View America’s Infrastructure Report Card

Become an Infrastructure Advocate

Our members frequently use various reports produced within the organization as pivotal tools when meeting with the general public and elected officials. They are often a topic of discussion at the Section’s legislative day at the Texas Capital (Legislative Drive-In). Interested members are welcome to join the Texas Section’s Government Affairs Committee. Join the team to connect with others, advocate for our profession, and make an impact in our industry. For more information, please contact ASCE Texas Section’s Government Affairs Committee Chair at [email protected].