‘Committed to transparency’: ERCOT makes changes to website to improve communication with Texans

Texas
ERCOT made improvements to its website to ensure clear communication with Texans (Screenshot of ERCOT.com)

ERCOT made improvements to its website to ensure clear communication with Texans (Screenshot of ERCOT.com)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Electric Reliability Council of Texas has made improvements to its website in an attempt to provide clearer communication to Texans in the case of another emergency.

In a statement to KXAN Friday, ERCOT said it “remains committed to transparency and communicating in easy-to-understand language.”

It comes after the agency came under fire for its response to the February winter storm, which killed at least 210 people in the state. Many Texans were stuck without power for days in single-digit temperatures as the power grid struggled to meet demand.

Those changes include a more user-friendly home page, a summer 2021 web page so customers can easily find news and events and an unplanned outage reports for summer 2021 page.

“We are also publishing more data sooner – as an example, at the direction of the [Public Utility Commission], we are now publishing unplanned outage data for every operating day during the summer months,” an ERCOT spokesperson said.

After the winter storm, Gov. Greg Abbott and the Texas Legislature called on ERCOT to make improvements, especially concerning the weatherization of equipment. In June, Abbott signed into law Senate Bills 2 and 3 aimed at a drastic reform to the state’s electric system.

Communication with customers was just one of the improvements on the list. In the agency’s “Roadmap to Improving Grid Reliability” items 33 and 34 deal with communication with news outlets and the public.

Item 33 aims to “educate public and news media about energy emergencies and operational notices,” in hopes of getting Texans more familiar with grid operations. Additionally, ERCOT will update its existing communication practices for “conservation alerts” to cut down on public fatigue.

Item 34 will identify the preferred method of communication for government officials, market participants and customers, including Spanish communications. ERCOT officials will also “re-write external communications materials to eliminate industry jargon,” so a wider audience will be able to understand.

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