TEXAS (KXAN) — Approximately 900 power companies are set to submit winterization plans to the Public Utility Commission of Texas by end of day Wednesday, following new winterization regulations adopted in October.

The newly adopted rule requires power companies enhance their winter preparations, reliant on recommendations made a decade ago by experts and federal regulators after a 2011 storm resulted in rolling power outages.

Similarly, the rule mandates power plants address “acute” issues from the February 2021 winter storm, after power plants were unable to operate and millions were left without access to electricity, heat and clean water.

Following companies’ submissions of winter preparedness plans, both the PUC and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas will review the reports, with inspectors expected to head out to and review power plants in December.

ERCOT will then file a public report on power plants’ compliances to the requirements by Dec. 10.

The PUC issued the following statement to Houston affiliate KPRC 2:

“Dec. 1 is the deadline for electric generators and transmission providers to have completed preparing for winter weather. These entities have to file a report with ERCOT detailing their compliance with each aspect of the new PUC winter weather preparedness rules. ERCOT and PUC staff will review each of the approximately 900 reports to be filed on Dec. 1. ERCOT inspectors will then independently examine specific power plants and transmission facilities in the field throughout the month of December. On Dec. 10, ERCOT will file a public report addressing compliance with the Dec. 1 reporting deadline.”

Public Utility Commission of Texas

This follows the 87th Texas Legislature’s passing of Senate Bill 3, which required the PUC to create a utility weatherization program.

Austin Energy confirmed in an email to KXAN Wednesday it had submitted its 2021 Winter Weather Readiness Report, which denotes weatherization efforts ahead of the winter season. Preparations include:

  • Reinforcing insulation
  • Improving heat tracing systems
  • Expanding size, completeness of windbreaks, which help reduce wind chill near “critical equipment”
  • Engineering, construction of temporary housing
  • Acquiring heat lamps, propane, electrical heaters and thermal blankets to provide warmth to critical equipment, as needed

In addition to these changes, AE representatives said staff will “use both in-person and remote monitoring to gauge the performance of these preparations,” which are analyzed prior to any major storm occurrence.

An Oncor spokesperson said in an email to KXAN winterization preparations include inspections of electrical facilities to “ensure they are ready for high demand and cooler temperatures” in addition to regularly scheduled facility maintenance.

Oncor has also updated contingency planning for operating centers in the case of severe weather, officials added.