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USA Market | PUCT sets out weather resilience rule changes

USA Market | PUCT sets out weather resilience rule changes

The Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) has issued draft regulations to implement new weather-related requirements set forth in Senate Bill 3 (SB 3) to boost grid resilience.

SB 3 was enacted in response to what the PUCT described as the February 1-5, 2021, “Southwest Cold Weather Event.” In the release, published on August 26, PUCT outlined 16 code changes relating to weather emergency preparedness in the ERCOT region.

The aim of the rule changes is to provide continuous reliable electricity supplies throughout the upcoming winter season and to comply with the statutory deadline for the adoption of weather emergency preparedness reliability standards set out in SB 3.

By December 1, generators and transmission owners that are subject to PUCT registration requirements must:

  • Take all steps required to ensure the operability of “cold weather critical components,” which include all generator components that might freeze and thereby cause an operational failure, derate or start failure
  • Implement winterization technologies, including installation of wind-break and other freeze protection equipment
  • Take “all actions necessary” to prevent equipment failure due to cold weather
  • Develop and implement cold weather training
  • Determine minimum design and operational temperature-related limits, adjusted for factors to include wind and humidity

In addition, under the proposed regulations, ERCOT will conduct compliance inspections and provide reports of their outcomes to the regulated entities. ERCOT will be required to prioritize inspections based on risk, starting from auditing those with critical assets and equipment that have experienced weather-related reliability events in the past. By December 10, ERCOT is required to develop and release a checklist disclosing the compliance status of regulated entities.

The PUCT will accept comments on proposed rule changes through to September 16, and intends to conduct a public hearing on the adoption of the provisions on September 20.

Wayne Muncaster, VP for North America at GridBeyond, commented:

“Even if the PUCT were to adopt the proposal towards the end of September, as currently planned, that would give energy generators, distributors, suppliers, and other regulated entities less than three months to comply with the new rules.

“The focus so far from the Governor and Legislature has been on ERCOT’s supply-side. While this is important, more action is needed to encourage investment in demand response, energy storage and energy efficiency as a cost-effective means to manage pressure on the supply-side.”

 

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