By Devin Fehely

LIVERMORE (KPIX 5) — While California is no stranger to problems with its power grid, energy experts say the snowstorm that have thrown Texas into darkness and caused widespread outages is unique in a number of ways.

“Their issue this time is really on the generation side,” explained Sharelynn Moore, Executive Vice President with Bloom Energy.

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Several days of freezing temperatures have crippled the power grid in Texas. Industry analysts estimate Texas has an energy shortfall of roughly 30 gigawatts — the equivalent of 30 large-scale power plants going offline at the same time.

The main culprit is a gas shortage caused by freezing temperatures, which accounts for 26 gigawatts in lost power generation. The remaining four gigawatts were caused by frozen windmills.

California has invested heavily in renewable energy — namely wind and solar. San Jose State Electrical Engineering Professor Mohamed Badawy says wind and solar, while subject to the vagaries of the weather, don’t have to be a liability if they’re coupled with battery storage.

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“If you look at the main renewable energy sources in California, with energy storage that can help you build a modern grid,” says Dr. Badawy.

Moore says another critical difference between California and Texas is the Lone Star State’s independent power grid. California belongs to the Western Grid Group, an interconnected, multi-state system that can lend help and surplus power when a state is in an emergency.

The power grid in Texas is run by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas or ERCOT. It’s independent of both the Western and Eastern grids. Therefore, when it failed, there was no backup.

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“The difference is California has an interconnected grid and would be able to take power from their neighbors to augment any issues that they had. So, they ability to phone a friend really would have helped California,” said Moore.