New Wine in Old Bottle: Evolution of the Texas Electricity Market Since 2021 Blackouts and Broader Electricity System Implications

In February 2021 winter storm Uri left hundreds dead and tens of billions of dollars in losses in Texas. This talk will take an integrative stock of the lessons and insights that have emerged regarding the functioning of the ERCOT electricity market in the aftermath of Uri. By examining the nature of recent changes in electricity policy and regulation in ERCOT amid a vastly different federal policy landscape since Uri, the talk will explore the drivers of those changes and the implications for electricity system design and operations.

Dr. Varun Rai is the Walt and Elspeth Rostow Professor in the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, with a joint appointment in Mechanical Engineering. His interdisciplinary research, delving with issues at the interface of energy systems, complex systems, decision science, and public policy, develops policy solutions for a sustainable and resilient energy system. During 2013-2015 he was a Commissioner for the vertically-integrated electric utility Austin Energy and from 2019-2021 he served as director of the UT Austin Energy Institute. Dr. Rai was awarded the 2016 David N. Kershaw Award and Prize, which “was established to honor persons who, at under the age of 40, have made a distinguished contribution to the field of public policy analysis and management.” He received his Ph.D. and MS in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University and a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur.

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