How Much Demand Flexibility Could Have Spared Texas from the 2021 Outage?

The February 2021 Texas winter power outage has led to hundreds of deaths and billions of dollars in economic losses, largely due to the generation failure and record-breaking electric demand. In this paper, we study the scaling-up of demand flexibility as a means to avoid load shedding during such an extreme weather event. The three mechanisms considered are interruptible load, residential load rationing, and incentive-based demand response. By simulating on a synthetic but realistic large-scale Texas grid model along with demand flexibility modeling and electricity outage data, we identify portfolios of mixing mechanisms that exactly avoid outages, which a single mechanism may fail due to decaying marginal effects. We also reveal a complementary relationship between interruptible load and residential load rationing and find nonlinear impacts of incentive-based demand response on the efficacy of other mechanisms.

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