Texans often have a kind of pride in the extreme weather their state can throw at them, but the ice storms of February 2011 tested even their tolerance as blackouts swept the state alongside freezing temperatures.
Many of the problems highlighted by the cold weather were potentially preventable, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said in a review of the incident earlier this year. But the response of those in the Texas power sector was without doubt heroic and swift.
This video, which comes from the international engineering firm Siemens, captures the urgency and panic of those cold days in February, and underlines the life and property risk on the line as large areas of the Southwestern US went without power or heat.
The operators of the transmission grid are strikingly calm as they recall the incident, in part because they enjoy the challenge but also because the communications they receive off of smart grid components in the system give them greater insight into the problems and allow them to more quickly identify potential fixes.
As FERC and local power system regulators mull how to fix the problems that emerged in the winter 2011 blackouts and deal with cold snaps in the future, smart grid technology is likely to be part of the answer.
With much of the US East Coast still in recovery after a weaker-than-expected Hurricane Irene barreled across major population zones and caused millions of blackouts, the ability of power companies to deal with outages and problems on their aging infrastructure is a pressing national issue as well.
Lessons learned from the Texas outage and the fast response of many East Coast utilities will be applied to disaster management moving forward, leveraging the best smart gird communication technology.
This video was originally posted on the Siemens website.