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Survey Asks Texas Electricity Customers About Power Interruption Costs

The Public Utility Commission of Texas recently said that it has launched a survey of Texas electricity consumers to study the costs they may incur from power interruptions.

The survey was developed by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory “and has been used nationally by utilities and electricity regulators to develop innovative grid reliability policy and evaluate the cost-effectiveness of grid infrastructure improvements,” the PUCT said. 

Beginning March 26, randomly selected residential, commercial, and large industrial electricity consumers in the ERCOT region will receive an email request to participate in the survey.

The survey includes questions about consumers’ electricity use and asks participants to estimate the financial impact on their homes, businesses, or facilities that may result from power interruptions. The survey is voluntary, and responses will be submitted anonymously.

The PUCT instructed the Electric Reliability Council of Texas to conduct the survey as part of a larger study to estimate the value of electric reliability in the ERCOT region, also known technically as the Value of Lost Load (VOLL).

The results of the consumer survey will be considered, among other factors, in calculating a VOLL specific to the ERCOT region.

“This will be an important data point for the PUCT as it continues its work on several market design initiatives, including the development of a reliability standard for the ERCOT region,” the PUC said.

Determining a VOLL for the ERCOT region will also help commissioners evaluate whether infrastructure improvements proposed by transmission and distribution utilities in Texas will provide adequate value to consumers in relation to their cost.

The survey results will contribute Texas-specific data to LBNL’s nationwide electric reliability planning tool, the Interruption Cost Estimate Calculator.

The tool is used by utilities, government organizations, and regulators across the country to estimate financial impact of power interruptions and weigh the costs and benefits of reliability improvements.

ERCOT contracted with consulting and data analysis firms Brattle Group and PlanBeyond to plan and conduct the survey.

ERCOT and the Brattle Group are working with transmission and distribution utilities and electric providers across the state to administer the survey to a diverse set of customers in the ERCOT region, the PUCT said.

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