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ERCOT, Texas PUC Leaders Detail Actions Taken To Bolster Grid Reliability This Winter

Public Utilities Commission of Texas (PUCT) Chairman Peter Lake and Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) Interim President and CEO Brad Jones recently provided an update on grid operations and the actions their organizations are taking to improve grid reliability this winter.

At a press conference, Lake and Jones detailed the ongoing reforms and actions underway to ensure a stronger and safer grid, including:

  • ERCOT will continue policies put in place this summer that operate the grid in a conservative manner with an abundance of power reserves;
  • ERCOT’s Emergency Response System that allows large electric consumers to curtail their usage under direction from ERCOT can now be used before the grid encounters emergency conditions;
  • The PUCT has reduced the cap on high prices that can be charged when supply is tightest, lowering the cap from $9,000 per megawatt hour (MWh) to $5,000 per MWh;
  • Along with the Railroad Commission of Texas, the PUC has adopted a rule to designate natural gas facilities that are critical to the operation of the electric grid; and
  • PUCT rules required the weatherization of power plants in Texas by December 1. This will be verified by ERCOT inspections of power plants

In addition, penalties for violating weatherization rules have increased to $1,000,000 per day per violation.

PUCT Staff Files Reports Of Violation Against Generation Companies

PUCT staff on Dec. 8 filed reports of violation against eight generation companies for failure to file winter weather readiness reports by the Dec. 1, 2021 deadline.

Out of the 850 generation resources in the state, PUCT’s Division of Compliance and Enforcement identified 13 separate generation resources owned by the eight companies that missed the deadline. These 13 resources have the ability to generate 801 megawatts of electricity out of the state’s total installed capacity of 120,000 MW, or less than one percent of the state’s total.

The winter weather readiness reports are critical to ensure the generation fleet in Texas is more prepared to provide service through severe winter weather, the PUCT Said. Failure to file winter weather readiness reports on time does not indicate whether or not these companies have taken the steps to weatherize their facilities. Subsequent inspections by ERCOT will verify that.

In October 2021, the PUCT adopted a new rule requiring power generators and electric transmission companies to take actions based on weather preparation best practices in advance of the 2021-2022winter season.

Entities receiving violations have 20 days to respond to the notice of violation and can request a hearing.