In November 2023, FERC released Final Report on lessons from Winter Storm Elliott (the Christmas 2022 storm)

In Australia we’re in the midst of summer 2023-24.

1)  apart from two hot-and-high-demand days in Queensland on Thu 28th Dec 2023 and Fri 29th Dec 2023, this summer’s been turning out significantly differently than I had expected when the BOM declared that El Niño and a positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) were underway in September 2023.

2)  Shows the complexities involved in (understanding of) complex weather patterns!


On (one part of) the other side of the world, in North America they are experiencing winter 2023-24.  From afar we’ve been watching a steady stream of updates about various challenges, including:

1)  Rolling load shedding in Hawaii about a week ago;

2)  Very tight supply-demand balance in Alberta in the past couple days; and

3)  Another round of concerns about supply-demand balance in Texas;

…. plus more

Each of these locations seems to possess their own series of commentators who are positing a variety of views about the extent to which the various local efforts to manage the energy transition is exacerbating (or not) these supply-demand challenges.


Which reminds me that some of our readers pointed out back in November 2023 that FERC released its Final Report on lessons from ‘Winter Storm Elliott’ …  the Christmas 2022 storm that contributed to power outages for millions of electricity customers in the Eastern half of the country:


Final Report

Lessons from Winter Storm Elliott (168 pages)


Media Release

You can download the main document as PDF from here:


A few key pieces of information in the report:

‘From December 21 to 26, 2022, in the Event Area, a total of 1,702 individual generating units—47 percent natural gas-fired, 21 percent wind, 12 percent coal, 3 percent solar, 0.4 percent nuclear, 17 percent other (oil, hydroelectric and biomass)—experienced 3,565 outages, derates, or failures to start

Ninety-six percent of all outages, derates, and failuresto start were attributed to three causes: Freezing Issues (31 percent), Fuel Issues (24 percent) and Mechanical/ Electrical Issues (41 percent). Of those outages, derates, and failures to start, 55 percent were caused by either Freezing Issues or Fuel Issues, as shown in Figure 7 below. Natural Gas Fuel Issues (a subset, but the majority, of Fuel Issues) were 20 percent of all causes, and issues with other fuels were four percent.

In addition to the outages, derates, and failures to start caused by Freezing Issues, those caused by Mechanical/ Electrical Issues also indicated a clear pattern related to cold temperatures—as temperatures decreased, the number of generating units experiencing an outage, derate or failure to start due to Mechanical/Electrical Issues increased.

(p19-20/168 in the PDF)

… and in terms of recommendations …

‘the Team urges prompt development and implementation of the remaining revisions to the Reliability Standards recommended
by Key Recommendation 1 from the 2021 Report to strengthen generators’ ability to maintain extreme cold weather performance. Additionally, the Team suggests robust monitoring of the implementation of currently effective and approved cold weather Reliability Standards to determine if reliability gaps exist. The Team includes several recommendations to prevent generating unit
freeze issues, one targeted at those units that failed above their designated operating limits, and three applicable to all units. Another recommendation suggests that Generation Owners communicate changes in their operating limits to the BA in real time. The Team also recommends a technical review of the individual causes of cold-related mechanical/electrical generation outages to reduce the frequency of these outages and inform whether additional Standards are needed. Finally, the Team recommends another blackstart study, like the one currently being conducted for the ERCOT Interconnection
in response to Recommendation 26 from the 2021 Report, but  ocusing on the Eastern and Western Interconnections.

… and more  … ’ 

(p21/168 in the PDF)

There’s more information in this News Release from FERC:


This includes the quote:

“The FERC and NERC teams analyzed what happened, what went wrong, and the steps utilities, grid operators and stakeholders must take to avoid this in the future,” FERC Chairman Willie Phillips said. “I want everyone to take time during this Reliability Week to read this report and begin implementing these recommendations, particularly those addressing the interdependence of gas and electricity. The report highlights what I’ve called for before: Someone must have authority to establish and enforce gas reliability standards.”

“Winter is upon us, and the energy sector needs to implement these recommendations as quickly as possible. As the report lays out, we narrowly dodged a crisis last year. Had the weather not warmed up on Christmas Day, it is highly likely that natural gas service would have been disrupted to New York City,” said Jim Robb, NERC President and Chief Executive Officer. “I echo the Chairman’s call for an authority to set and enforce winterization standards for the natural gas system upstream of power generation and local distribution. The unplanned loss of generation due to freezing and fuel issues was unprecedented, reflecting the extraordinary interconnectedness of the gas and electric systems and their combined vulnerability to extreme weather.”


Our readers (both in Australia and elsewhere) might like to read through this report in parallel with what’s currently happening …

About the Author

Paul McArdle
One of three founders of Global-Roam back in 2000, Paul has been CEO of the company since that time. As an author on WattClarity, Paul's focus has been to help make the electricity market more understandable.

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