NERC, FERC report offers recommendations for cold weather events

A joint staff report released by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation offers several recommendations and identifies sound practices for power industry participants to consider related to cold weather events.

The joint staff report, which was released July 18, once again stresses the need for generation owners and operators to adequately prepare for winter weather conditions to ensure bulk electric system reliability, FERC said in a news release.

On Jan. 17, 2018, regional operators in the Midwest and South Central U.S. (Midcontinent Independent System Operator and Southwest Power Pool) called for voluntary reductions in electricity use due to abnormally cold temperatures and higher than forecast demand. The system remained stable.

However, continued reliable operation would have required shedding firm load if MISO had experienced its largest single generation contingency in MISO South, FERC said.

The joint staff report found that, despite prior guidance from FERC and NERC, cold weather events continue to result in unplanned outages that imperil reliable system operations. The report endorses the development of one or more mandatory reliability standards, primarily aimed at generator operators.

Along with a reliability standard, enhanced outreach and actions by system operators to encourage generator performance can also help to prevent a recurrence of the large-scale unplanned outages like those seen during this event, the 2014 Polar Vortex and the 2011 Southwest cold weather event, FERC noted.

In addition to citing the failure to properly winterize generation facilities, the report said gas supply issues contributed to the event.

The report makes a number of recommendations and identifies sound practices.

Some recommendations echo a report related to the 2011 Southwest event, including:

  • Generator owners and operators should perform winterization activities to prepare for cold weather, and should ensure the accuracy of their units’ ambient temperature design specifications;
  • Balancing authorities and reliability coordinators should be aware of generating units’ specific limitations, such as ambient temperatures beyond which they cannot be expected to perform or the lack of firm gas transportation;
  • Planning coordinators and transmission planners should jointly develop and study scenarios to be better prepared for seasonal extreme weather conditions; and
  • Transmission owners and operators should conduct analyses that delineate different summer and winter ratings for both normal and extreme conditions.

The report is available here.