ERCOT: Texas power generating plants are ready for winter weather

Texas

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Electric Reliability Council of Texas officials said Thursday that power generators across Texas are ready for winter weather.

After on-site inspections at 302 of its electric generation units, ERCOT said mandatory winterization efforts have been completed. These units represent about 85% of the megawatt-hours of power lost during the winter storm in February, ERCOT said, which is why it “determined these were the priority sites to visit.”

ERCOT filed a preliminary report of its findings with the Public Utility Commission of Texas, and the final inspection report will be filed by Jan. 18, the agency said.

“Texans can be confident the electric generation fleet and the grid are winterized and ready to provide power,” said Woody Rickerson, ERCOT’s vice president of grid planning and weatherization. “New regulations require all electric generation and transmission owners to make significant winterization improvements and our inspections confirm they are prepared.”

ERCOT officials said some of the generator plants, all of which are independently-owned, even exceeded PUC winterization requirements. Only 10 of the plants inspected needed to have something fixed the day of the inspection, and most of the corrections were minor, ERCOT said.

PUC filings showed that as of Dec. 10, all generators except for one shared winterization plans with state regulators. The plans were due by Dec. 1, and eight generators missed the deadline but still shared their plans.

At the time, the PUC said 244 of the reports filed featured requests for “good cause for non-compliance” exemptions that explained why they didn’t believe they needed to winterize. On Dec. 17, the PUC notified 14 power generators that it disagreed with their reasoning to not comply.

The grid’s failure during the February winter storm that left millions of Texans without heat and power has brought wholesale changes to not only how power is managed in Texas, but also ERCOT as a whole. ERCOT board members resigned, many of whom didn’t live in Texas, and former president/CEO Bill Magness was fired.

There are several lawsuits against both ERCOT and Austin Energy alleging negligence and mishandling of the power supply. In a July update, the Texas Department of State Health Services said 210 people across Texas died as a result of the winter storm.

Generating plants and transmission facilities can be fined $1 million per day for not complying with winterization mandates set forth by the PUC.

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