x
Breaking News
More () »

Public Utility Commission calls new weatherization rules a 'milestone;' plans for grid reliability are still behind

The Public Utility Commission adopted new power infrastructure weatherization rules Thursday. The final draft of new power market plans could be ready next week.

TEXAS, USA — The Public Utility Commission of Texas adopted new rules requiring weatherization on Thursday. That is, they adopted Phase One of the rules. While the job is not yet complete, the PUC wanted to get the process started before winter arrived. 

"We've got to make sure that this is in place for this winter. This rulemaking will be a big step to make sure to ensure the physical resiliency of our grid is vastly improved this winter compared to last winter," PUC Chairman Peter Lake said. 

A PUC news release said the new rules follow requirements from Senate Bill 3 and translate established industry best practices into specific actions backed with inspections. 

Find more information about the rules here.

Requirements for power providers include:

  • Installing adequate windbreaks for resources susceptible to outages or derates caused by wind and enclosing sensors for critical cold-weather components
  • Inspect thermal insulation for damage or degradation and repair damaged or degraded insulation
  • Confirm the operability of instrument air moisture prevention systems
  • Conduct maintenance of freeze protection components for all applicable equipment, including fuel delivery systems controlled by the generation entity
  • Establish a schedule for testing of such freeze protection components monthly from November through March

Power generators must also address cold weather critical component failures that occurred before and after the winter storm from Nov. 22, 2020 to March 1.They must provide a report to ERCOT stating they have made the changes by Dec. 1. If a generator has not finished the changes they must explain why and give a timeline for the improvements to be complete. 

ERCOT would be tasked with inspecting power generators during the winter season to ensure those changes had been made. 

The release said the second phase of the weatherization rulemaking process targets the creation of a more comprehensive, year-round set of weather emergency preparedness reliability standards that will be informed by ERCOT's ongoing weather study.

Of course, the PUC is also working to overhaul the power grid. That requirement came back into focus Wednesday after grid conditions were again tight during a mild Texas day with temperatures in the 80s. It's an issue Lake brought up again on Thursday. 

"It is entirely unacceptable on these blue sky days that we expect 10,000 MW of wind and get 1500. And in the absence of any other problem, our ERCOT control room is scrambling to find resources. We've got to stop that way of doing business," Lake said. "Our homes and businesses need reliable power."

That design will in no way be simple. Thursday's meeting reflected how much work has yet to be done. Lake sent out a memo of providing a starting point for the market overhaul on Wednesday but made clear it was by no means fully developed. 

"This is just a starting point. A draft of a draft of a draft. I very much anticipate this being a dynamic and fluid document with continued stakeholder input," Lake said. "I'm sure the details will change."

Lake said he hoped to narrow the scope of their plan Thursday and have a final draft of the market redesign ready next week.