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Tuesday, October 4, 2022
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Texas Power Plants Face New Winterization Rules After February Disaster 

Government

Power plant on a sunny day. | Image by Ron and Patty Thomas

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After February’s huge Texas power grid loss, the Public Utility Commission voted for a new rule, requiring winterization plan for power plants and transmission services. According to WFAA, companies must complete their winter-proofing by December 1st to avoid issues during the storm season. Power companies will also be required to give the PUC reports on their “winter weather readiness.”   

This rule is in addition to Senate Bill 3 which was passed by the Texas Legislature in May 2020 to addressed power grid issues.

In 2011, the Federal government recommended winterizing Texas’s systems after a brutal storm year. February’s power knockout was akin to the 2011 system failure, leading the PUC to change the recommendations made for winterization to mandatory upgrades.  These upgrades aim to prevent further widespread winter outages. 

PUC Commissioner Will McAdams had the following to say about the new rules, “I have been assured that the generators are ahead of the game on this and have proceeded down an implementation plan in advance of the rule.” Power and transmission companies can receive a sort of exception for the rule, called a “good cause exception.” The companies must provide ample and proper evidence against why they shouldn’t winterize their systems to the PUC.    

Some of the changes mandated for utility companies and power facilities include deeper inspection, fixing critical parts, and filing more accurate reports. WFAA also lists monthly testing during the winter months and unrestricted ERCOT inspections as some new regulations.    

ERCOT, or the Electricity Reliability Council of Texas, will submit inspections up until December 12th on each “generation entity.” ERCOT has faced opposition from power generators such as Calpine, who fear incomplete checks could lead to unwarranted $1 million-a-day fines. According to a PUC report, “The rule requires ERCOT to communicate its determination of noncompliance directly to a generation entity, and a noncompliant generation entity will have a reasonable amount of time to cure the deficiencies.” 

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