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Blackout: An Insider Perspective on the Texas Electric System Failure

“I got very lucky in 1999—Texas Utilities put me on airplanes to study deregulated energy markets around the world—particularly in the UK and Australia. When I came home, they stuffed me in a blue suit, plopped me in a room full of blue-suited attorneys, and for the next three months I was the “Computer Guy” on their legal team in Austin. Not only did I love that job (I was pretty pleased with 26 year-old me), but it changed the direction of my career. I spent a year consulting with ERCOT on the rules for that market and I’ve spent most of my professional life in deregulated energy…about half of that with Texas companies.

I was immensely proud of my work. I spoke about it. I blogged about it. I wrote letters to my governor about it. I talked about it at parties.

And then on February 14th, the cold dipped into Texas and the power went out.

“And how do you feel about what you did in Texas now?” A good friend recently asked.

I wish that wasn’t such a good question. I had ready answers for her—I talked about pricing, I talked about green energy, and I preached about innovation. But that night, the memory of an old Computer Science professor said, “Remember, perspective determines what people see,” and I began to wonder if my intimacy with Texas’s market was coloring my view.”

Jim Smelley, author and Board Member at Cyber Group in Dallas, has consulted for ERCOT, The Public Utility Commission of Texas, TXU, Oncor, Direct Energy, Reliant, Just Energy, North America Power, AEP, Commerce Energy, Ambit, Liberty Power, and Griddy as well as several generators, gas companies and software companies in the energy sector.

On May 17th 2021, Jim will discuss what happened in Texas, how the crisis unfolded, its ongoing impacts, how likely it is to happen again, and what can be done about it. This topic is obviously fraught with political and personal bias. Jim’s already confessed some of his own. To improve our thinking, we will use the discipline of Systems Analysis to frame our perspective.

Jim can’t wait to talk with you all. It’s May, we can be pretty sure the power will stay on.

Join us at 4:30pm for networking prior to Jim’s presentation at 5:00pm.

Zoom information will be sent prior to the meeting.



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