Powering Strong Communities

Blackstart Study Recommends Collaboration, Planning for Resilience

The ability to efficiently recover from blackouts and effectively restart the electric power grid requires the natural gas and electric industries to more strongly collaborate and plan their efforts, according to a new study presented at a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission meeting on Dec. 19.

The study, prepared by staff from FERC, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation and NERC’s regional entities, evaluated the availability of “blackstart” resources in the Texas Interconnection during extreme cold weather conditions.

In contrast to most large generating plants, which need electricity to start up, a blackstart resource is designed to start up without support from the grid, FERC said.

These resources are critical to restoring electric service in event of a total blackout, FERC noted.

The study flows from a recommendation from a 2021 Winter Storm Uri report, which identified instances where blackstart resources were rendered unavailable during the storm.

The study recommends that state and other authorities with jurisdiction facilitate and moderate engagement among all entities necessary for developing and implementing blackstart system restoration plans.

It also recommends that they assess the impact of a blackout on the natural gas supply chain and develop a coordinated blackstart system restoration plan that meets the needs of both the electric and natural gas industries.

The study also recommends that grid operators examine the diversity of fuel, single points of failure, fuel arrangements and other limitations of each blackstart resource.

And where feasible, grid operators should incorporate a variety of fuel and non-fuel options into their blackstart system restoration plans.

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